Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/157

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151
SOME ARACHNIDS AT HANOVER, CAPE COLONY.

inches long (exclusive of legs) when full grown, and of a most brilliant yellow, with a heavy black band down the back of the abdomen, while the legs are covered with long yellow hair, which, in the male, becomes a distinct mane and is iridescent. As it lies on the sand on a hot day, sparkling in the sunshine, it is a most exquisite creature. Touch it, and away it darts; catch it—and take care it doesn't catch you! The male of this Solpuga may be distinguished from the female by two little curved horns, like wires, more than a quarter of an inch long, one on top of each pair of nippers near the points. If you watch a Solpuga closely, you may see its sides palpitating rapidly, even violently if you hold it in your hand. Like all active, high-strung, quick-breathing creatures, the Solifugæ perish almost instantaneously when immersed in spirits, while large scorpions and large Harpactiræ will live for two or three hours. Another Solpuga has a yellow cephalothorax and a red abdomen, another is wholly yellow with spikes on its legs.[1] Very little is known with regard to their methods of reproduction and the nurture of their young. They are great burrowers, but do not make regular holes apparently, and they lie dormant underground during the winter. They are a feature of the thirsty veld and the blazing sun.

Coming now to spiders, and dealing first with the four-lunged group, one may remark that the lung plates are very obvious as four yellowish or pinkish discs on the fore part of the lower side of the abdomen (as are the two discs in the two-lunged genera). The largest here are the Theraphosidæ, known in South Africa by the Dutch name, Baviaan Spinnekoppen (baboon spiders). I have been able to discover only one kind here, a new Harpactira. The adults, with their legs extended, are roughly as large as a man's hand. Their huge bodies and long powerful legs are covered closely with long hair, which is almost identical in color with the hairy coat of a baboon—hence, perhaps, the appropriate name; putting aside the fact that baboons, who turn stones over in search of scorpions and insects of various kinds, are said to be very partial to them. They are poisonous and have very large and powerful fangs directed backwards and subparallel. When these fangs, which ordinarily lie tucked backwards under the cephalothorax, are shot forward and opened apart, the huge hairy spider has a dreadful appearance. The pads on the legs (extending along the lower side of the two end joints and over the tips) are soft and clingy, like the skin of a monkey's hand, and iridescent. Baviaan Spinnekoppen are nocturnal, living by day under stones in


  1. These two species, and possibly one or two others, are probably new, but this cannot be determined for certain until the males are caught, and, aa yet, I have caught only the females.