Tail-less whip scorpion (Phrynichus jayakari)

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Tail-less whip scorpion on rock
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Tail-less whip scorpion fact file

Tail-less whip scorpion description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderAmblypygi
FamilyPhrynichidae
GenusPhrynichus (1)

The tail-less whip scorpion Phrynichus jayakari is spider-like in appearance and, as the common name of this group of arachnids suggests, it lacks a tail (2).

The body of Phrynichus jayakari is relatively flat, with a narrow waist, and is covered by an undivided carapace that is wider than it is long (3). It has a single pair of eyes at the front of the body and three eyes along both sides (2).

Phrynichus jayakari differs from the other arachnids (a group which includes spiders and scorpions) in that it uses only six of its limbs to walk rather than eight, as the front pair are instead modified into very long sensory organs (2). In spite of its rather threatening appearance, Phrynichus jayakari is in fact totally harmless and does not possess venom glands or a sting (3).

Also known as
tailess whip scorpion, whip spider.
Size
Total length: 5 - 7 cm (2)
Body length: 3 - 5 cm (2)
Modified front appendages: up to 25 cm (2)
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Tail-less whip scorpion biology

Like other members of the Amblypygi (whip spiders and tail-less whip scorpions), Phrynichus jayakari is primarily nocturnal and emerges at night in search of food or a mate (6). It has a sideways ‘crab-like’ walking gait, with one its long modified legs always pointing in the direction it is walking (7). Phrynichus jayakari uses its pedipalps to capture insect prey and also during courtship and mating (7).

Although not much is known about the specific mating rituals of Phrynichus jayakari, in other species of tail-less whip scorpions sperm is generally transferred from male to female via the use of a spermatophore (8). Males first perform an elaborate courtship dance before depositing a spermatophore and manoeuvring the female over it. The sperm is then transferred to the female’s genital opening and is used to fertilise the eggs. The female lays between 6 and 60 eggs, and these remain in a sac attached to the female’s underside until they hatch (7).

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Tail-less whip scorpion range

While there is no specific information on the range of Phrynichus jayakari, it is known to have been collected in northern Oman (4) and from the United Arab Emirates (5).

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Tail-less whip scorpion habitat

Tail-less whip scorpions generally occur in tropical and sub-tropical regions, where they live under stones, leaves, bark or in rock crevices and caves (4) (6).

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Tail-less whip scorpion status

Phrynichus jayakari has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

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Tail-less whip scorpion threats

Despite there being a market for tail-less whip scorpions as pets, the percentage captured for this purpose is currently thought to pose no threat to the overall population (3).

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Tail-less whip scorpion conservation

There are currently no known conservation measures in place for Phrynichus jayakari.

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
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Find out more

More information on conservation in the United Arab Emirates:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Carapace
In arthropods (insects, crabs etc), the fused head and thorax (the part of the body located near the head) also known as ‘cephalothorax’.
Fertilisation
The fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
Pedipalps
In arachnids (a group including spiders and scorpions), a pair of appendages which are modified for many uses, such as killing and manipulating prey, mating, defence and sensory perception.
Spermatophore
A capsule or mass of sperm transferred from a male to a female during mating, for example in certain insects, arthropods and cephalopods (octopuses and squids).
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References

  1. ITIS (July, 2011)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. Cooke, F. and Bruce, J. (2004) The Encyclopaedia of Animals: A Complete Visual Guide. Weldon Owen Pty Ltd, Sydney.
  3. Brusca, R. and Brusca, G. (2003) Invertebrates. Second Edition. Sinauer Associates Inc, Sunderland.
  4. Weygoldt, P.(2002) Reproductive biology of Phrynichus dhofarensis (Chelicerata, Amblypygi, Phrynichidae). Zoologische Anzeiger, 241: 305-315.
  5. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  6. Harvey, M. (2003) Catalogue of the Smaller Arachnid Orders of the World: Amblypygi, Uropygi, Schizomida, Palpigradi, Ricinulei and Solifugae. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
  7. Barnes, R. (1987) Invertebrate Zoology. Fifth Edition. CBS College Publishing, Philadeplphia.
  8. Weygoldt, P. (1999) Spermatophores and the evolution of female genitalia in whip spiders (Chelicerata, Amblypygi). The Journal of Arachnology, 27: 103-116.
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Image credit

Tail-less whip scorpion on rock  
Tail-less whip scorpion on rock

© Drew Gardner

Dr Drew Gardner
asgardner@gmail.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/drewgardner/

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