27 November 2006

The return of the pseudoscorpions

I find pseudoscorpions most often when I am sorting soil samples for tiny snail shells under a bright light in the lab. They are fascinating creatures and I would love to watch them in their natural surroundings, but their usually dark colored tiny bodies would be very hard to spot on dark soil in dimly lit forests. Moreover, according to Weygoldt1, pseudoscorpions spend most of their lives in small crevices and seldom appear on open ground. I have also occasionally found them in containers of empty snail shells, which indicates that they hide in empty snail shells. The individual pictured here was from a soil sample that I collected last weekend.

This specimen was less than 2 mm long.

Pseudoscorpions made their debut on this blog in a previous post. If I had more time on my hands, I would learn how to identfify them and study their zoogeography.

More information on pseudoscorpions by Mark Harvey, a world authority on them, is available here.

This page has links to images of British pseudoscorpion species and to past issues of Galea, a pseudoscorpion newsletter.

Tree of Life has a list of references on the evolution and phylogeny of Arachnida, the class to which the pseudoscorpions belong.

A primer on pseudoscorpions by Chris Buddle.

1. Peter Weygoldt. 1969. The Biology of Pseudoscorpions. Harvard University Press.


Marcus said...

Attenborough's Life of Earth series introduced me to pseudoscorpions. Later I was severely disappointed to learn that they get no bigger than my pinky nail :-{
I found one on the bathroom wall once though.

Anonymous said...

My first ps.scorp observation was a tiny Cheiridium found among pages of old volume museum book.

You all seem to live in humid areas. I didnt see any of these in house.

They are so tiny that they can travel via legs of flies etc (like small snails). Did you know they can bite?

Snail said...

Lovely post. I've shamelessly appropriated your idea and expanded it to include some of the more enigmatic arachnids!

As an aside, I've collected pseudoscorpions and other arachnids with and for the good Dr Harvey. And such is his knowledge that he was able to give me directions to the very tree in Townsville, N Qld, where he'd collected types of Afrosternophorus xalyx Harvey 1985. I was impressed!