The “camel spider” has nothing to do with beauty. They are not even attracted to humpbacks. Often referred to as the “trash spiders’ cousins” or “wind scorpions,” they are not even spiders but a species of ginger-colored scorpion that has long been an object of fascination for its remarkable traits such as aggression and exceptional running speed. , adapting to arid environments.

Known to scientists as Solifugae, they are predatory and carnivorous animals that move very quickly, reaching speeds of up to 16 kilometers per hour. These spiders have very strong jaws and may bite if they feel threatened, but they are not venomous. Found in dry climates throughout the world including the Middle East, Mexico, and the southwestern United States, they are about a year old and are very difficult to raise in captivity.

“We now have a better picture of their history and evolutionary relationships, and our proposed suborder provides a strong framework for future research in this fascinating field.”

Dr.. Efrat Gavish Regev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Despite their notoriety, the lack of a high-level phylogeny (molecular evolutionary tree) has left many unanswered questions about how these interesting creatures evolved.

Now a new study has been published in the journal iScience Titled “No Longer Negligence: The Evolutionary Solution to High-Level Relationships in Arachnids.” Led by the laboratories of Professor Prashant Sharma of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Efrat Gavish Regev of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU), team members have unraveled ancient mysteries surrounding these spiders. This pioneering research represents a milestone by creating the first comprehensive molecular tree, or phylogeny, of this enigmatic arachnid order, shedding light on its history and evolutionary relationships.

By harnessing advanced sequencing technologies and a unique genetic dataset, the study overcame previous difficulties in characterizing and understanding the evolution of these amazing creatures. The research not only reclassifies camel spiders into two new groups, but also highlights the importance of modern genomic techniques in unraveling the secrets of mysterious organisms, ultimately deepening our appreciation of biodiversity and evolutionary science.

The camel spider and its whereabouts (Source: Dr. Efrat Gavish Regev, Professor Prashant P. Sharma and collaborators)

Their first comprehensive molecular tree of this mysterious arachnid order was based on advanced sequencing techniques and a new dataset. In the past, camel spiders were difficult to study because we could not easily differentiate them based on their phenotype. Until recently, only one of the 12 modern families of camel spiders had been studied using their information-bearing genes, mainly because many historical specimens had been stored for decades in collections around the world under conditions that were damaging to DNA. Their own. And make it useless for genomic study.

But now, Sharma, Gavish Regev and their collaborators have used advanced techniques to look at specific parts of the genome that are conserved in all camel spiders and their surrounding regions and that have changed during evolution. Led by Dr. Siddharth Kulkarni, a postdoctoral researcher at Madison, the new method they used can also take advantage of historical materials and make use of fragmented DNA for genetic analysis. This allowed them to learn more about all the different families of camel spiders and their relationships to each other.

Have they been found in America?

They discovered that there are two main groups of camel spiders in the Americas, part of a larger group of camel spiders that began evolving in tropical regions long ago. By looking at ancient evidence such as fossils, they discovered that scorpions began evolving about 250 to 300 million years ago during the Permian. Most of these families were already different from each other before the great extinction event about 66 million years ago, a time when many species, including dinosaurs, disappeared. This suggests that the breakup of the continents had a major impact on how camel spiders evolved.

Gavish Regev said she was very excited about their findings because “our work has finally brought camel spiders out of the shadows and into the light of genetic analysis.” We now have a better picture of their history and evolutionary relationships, and our proposed suborder provides a strong framework for future research in this fascinating field. “This will stimulate further research into wolf spiders and deepen our appreciation for our planet’s biodiversity.”

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