Letters from Camp

Held without charge in an outdoor cage, camp x-ray detainee JJJEEHH 160 writes home:

The camel spider is the only 10-legged spider in the world, and, I believe, it is not an arachnid (technically not a spider). But it grows to bigger than the human hand-size, moves like a race-car and has a bite that causes flesh to decay if untreated. In the summer there were plenty here, running into cells and climbing over people; one person was bitten and had to be treated. Apart from that there is the usual melee of scorpions, beetles, mice and other insects.

For Independence Day, George W Bush announced that British citizen Moazzam Begg will face a military tribunal and possible death penalty. Charges against him are still unknown.

“Camel spider” was a very popular search term around April Fools Day, when exaggerated reports came back from Gulf War and Return of Gulf War (as big as a hand, they scream like children, they eat camels alive — all false). Although the jaws of the camel spider (or wind scorpion) are very powerful, it has no venom at all. And it actually attacks scorpions and beetles, “the desert equivalent of a praying mantis.” They are native to the Western hemisphere, and are known in Mexico as matevenados, but it unclear to me if they’re also native to Cuba…

In short, I’d be curious to know the original source of this letter from Camp X-Ray which defames a kindly desert creature (even if it is a very fast moving, scary-looking, hard-biting creature). In fact the whole “letters home” thing suddenly seems very strange….

Although not quite as strange as the maiting practices of the Solifugae:

Mating habits are different from those of other arachnids. The male courts the female by stroking her with his pedipalpi and forelegs. This reduces her to a passive state, as if anaesthetized, whereupon the male lays her on her side. Raising his body he ejects a mass of spermatozoa onto the ground, picks it up with his chelicerae and forces it into the vagina. He closes the opening and waits a few moments and then hurriedly departs before the female has a chance to grab and eat him.