Little Known Creature Found on Hay Transect

Researcher Rusty Goodchild Shows Off Discovery of Potential New Species of Whip-Scorpion

It’s a typical day, I’m sat in my jungle office playing with spiders, noticing new habits and behaviour of our eight legged chums, when the Herp-Invert team returns from the fourth night of visual encounter surveys, this one being on the Hay transect, and they all stroll over to me saying they have “presents” for me, all with suitably cheesey grins.

The first few tubs reveal some very cool looking spiders, some weird and interesting insects, then; the piece de resistance, a 15mm long Whip-Scorpion; the target species I was most pessimistic about. Eventually I stopped jumping up and down and hugging Holli, the provider of this delight and explained why I was so excited.

Whip-Scorpions, or Theyliphonida as they are properly called are an order of arachnid, much like spiders, scorpions, pseudo-scorpions are their own. The resemblance to Scorpions leads to confusion, but when you get into it they’re very distinct.

Taxonomic Trouble-shooting

The big difference is that Theyliphonids don’t have a tail; instead they have a long ‘whip’ on the end of their abdomen which function is unclear. Next to this is a gland which can shoot acetic acid, which although sounds scary, merely smells of vinegar (disappointingly our Theyli hasn’t down this yet). The first pair of legs are modified to act more as sensory feelers; being nocturnal it has become more reliant on feeling its way around.

The Pedipalps, the arms and claws of a scorpion, are more club like with only a small amount of movement between ‘finger and thumb’. These are used for burrowing so that it can spend its days underground, and for catching and subduing prey, which includes crickets and anything smaller than itself (the large S American species can take small mammals).

Oh my, what a geek”

Now, you may think “ah, this is smashing, but why is he so excited?”, and the answer is not simply that I’m a major bug geek, but these are really unstudied in South-East Asia, and before coming here I could not find any data on them being here at all; ergo, I’m willing to bet my jam ration that this is a new species, and I take jam seriously.

So, in summary; Theyliphonida are awesome, I’m excited, and everyone is telling me to be quiet because they are trying to get to sleep, but sod ‘em, I have a Theyli!

For more information on the following species, please click the links:

Tail-less Whip Scorpion (Phrynichus jakari)