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The Spider Myths Site
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General Fallacies

Myth: "Arachnid" is just a fancy name for spider.

Fact: There are eleven orders of arachnids. These include the scorpions; mites and ticks; harvestmen; pseudoscorpions; whipscorpions; solpugids; and spiders. It's like the relation of beetles with insects: beetles constitute one order of insects, the Coleoptera, but not all insects are beetles. Similarly, not all arachnids are spiders.

B&W spider drawing B&W whipscorpion drawing B&W scorpion drawing B&W pseudoscorpion drawing
A spider, Missulena occatoria (Australia) A whipscorpion, Abaliella dicranotarsalis A scorpion, Charmus indicus (India) A pseudoscorpion, Chelifer tuberculatus (Algeria)
Examples of 7 of the 11 orders of arachnids. Only one is a spider.
B&W whipspider drawing B&W solpugid drawing B&W harvestman drawing
A whipspider, Paraphrynus mexicanus (Mexico, Arizona) A solpugid, Eremohax sp. (Mexico, southwest USA) A harvestman, Phalangium opilio (worldwide)

Myth: You can always tell a spider because it has eight legs.

Fact: Not exactly. Scorpions, harvestmen, ticks, and in fact all arachnids - not just spiders - have four pairs of legs (see illustrations above). Insects have three pairs. Also, notice that I said "four pairs" instead of "eight." The number of leg pairs (one pair per leg-bearing segment) is more significant than individual legs, which can be lost.

Text © 2003, Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture,
University of Washington, Box 353010, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Phone: 206-543-5590
Photos © as credited
Queries to Spider Myths author, Rod Crawford

This page last updated 1 September, 2010

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