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Dr. Paula Cushing has been studying these strange animals for nearly 17 years, and says there is so little known about them, that anyone can discover something new. They're camel spiders: neither camels, nor spiders! So... what are they, anyway?

We've set out from The Field Museum in Chicago to collaborate with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Check out our first video on the Human Biology Collection:

And our video with anthropologist Dr. Steve Nash, about their collection of Native American Peace Medals:

Learn more about Dr. Cushing’s work, and camel spiders:

The 3D-reconstruction at 5:49 is from the paper, "Morphology of the tracheal system of camel spiders (Chelicerata: Solifugae) based on micro-CT and 3D-reconstruction in exemplar species from three families:

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Producer, Writer, Creator, Host:
Emily Graslie

Producer, Camera:
Brandon Brungard

Producer, Camera, Editor:
Sheheryar Ahsan

Interview with:
Dr. Paula Cushing

This episode is a collaboration between
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science
And filmed on location in beautiful Denver, Colorado.
This video is brought to you by a collaboration between the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Field Muesum in Chicago, Illinois.

Back in 2004, at the ripe age of 14, I received an e-mail that looked something like this.  It was a picture of two massive nightmarish creatures with enormous fangs and humongous legs.  They appeared to each be as big as a grown man's thigh and looked like they could take off your finger.  The description with the images mentioned that they have a quote "vertical leap that would make a pro basketball player weep with envy" and that they need to jump high enough to jump onto a camel and suck out its juices and maybe even lay its eggs in its stomach.

The thing is, most of that isn't true.  I mean, the animals are, it's just that the forced perspective makes them look huge.  The biggest ones are 6-8 inches, they're completely non-venomous, can't jump like pro basketball players, and even though they can run pretty fast, they still can't outrun you.

These are camel spiders, and there are more than 1100 known species.  They live in deserts all across the world with the exception of Australia and Antarctica, and the oldest known species date back to 300 million years ago.  It was around during the Carniferous period and roamed the planet some 60 million years before the dinosaurs.