Hitchhiking is a time-honoured tradition for many a backpacker, and is an inexpensive way of covering the distance between destinations. Nature, of course, has its own version called phoresis or phorecy. In this case a phoront (the hitchhiker) attaches itself to a host and travels along until said host reaches a suitable destination, where the phoront will then detach again.
Pseudoscorpions have mastered this art to the extent that some species even require phoresis to survive. Pseudoscorpions themselves are an ancient order of tiny predatory arachnids, usually no more than 3mm in size, that superficially resemble true scorpions but lack the elongated tail and sting. Many species possess venom which they can inject into prey from small venom teeth at the ends of their pincers. This makes the Pseudoscorpiones one of only three arachnid orders that possess venom, the other two being true spiders (Araneae) and true scorpions (Scorpiones). Pseudoscorpions occur in almost every part of the world, though most species are found within the tropics and subtropics.
Arachnology is the scientific study of spiders and their kin, with particular emphasis on the identification of new species, the study of their biology and how they interact with their environment. Humans have had a fascination with these organisms since ancient times, with many early societies having myths with prominent spider figures.
J.A. NEETHLING1, 2 & C.R. HADDAD1
1Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein, 9300 , South Africa
2Department of Arachnology, National Museum, P.O. Box 266, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa. E-mail: email@example.com
The pseudoscorpion family Geogarypidae of South Africa was revised. Prior to this study the family consisted of eight species in two genera (Afrogarypus Beier, 1931 and Geogarypus Chamberlin, 1930).
– the character we all love to hate-
Typecasting is defined as “assigning (an actor or actress) repeatedly to the same type of role, as a result of the appropriateness of their appearance or previous success in such roles.” Some actors, for example, always play the hero in a film, while others are always cast as antagonists. The latter has, unfortunately, been true of our arachnid actors since their earliest days in the film industry.
Pseudoscorpions originated in pre-Devonian times, more than 400 million years ago, and are one of the oldest living animal groups, having diverged into more than 3 400 species in 26 families. Because of their small size and lack of medical and agricultural importance, pseudoscorpions have been studied by only a small group of scientists, mostly taxonomists. Only recently have these arthropods begun to gain the interest of a wider audience.