A bizarre arachnid that has a dog-like head has been snapped in a series of photographs that shows just how wild and wonderful our natural world is.
Shared on Twitter by science writer Ferris Jabr, the images were taken by scientist and photographer Andreas Kay (you can check out his Flickr page with other wonderful creatures here). The animal is an arachnid, not a spider, called the bunny harvestman, and scientifically named Metagryne bicolumnata.
The images were snapped in Ecuador in July 2017. The creature is tiny, with its body barely the size of a human thumbnail, but it’s immediately noticeable for its odd head that looks weirdly like a dog or a bunny rabbit (or if you're nerds like us, a certain black dog from Harry Potter) and complete with ears, eyes, and a nose.
And in a video post about the creature on the website Rumble, Kay revealed some more details about the creature. He said the animal came from the Cosmetidae family, in the order of Opiliones. These are also known as harvestmen or, more commonly, daddy longlegs.
“Contrary to a common belief Harvestman [sic] do not have venom glands and are absolutely harmless,” he wrote. “Harvestmen have been around for at least 400 million years and lived even before the dinosaurs.”
While you might think this is a spider, such a moniker is incorrect according to Kay. This belongs to the same class as Arachnida, but is not closely related to spiders. It was first described in 1959 by German arachnid specialist Carl Friedrich Roewer.
It’s unclear what purpose the eye spots and ear-like protrusions have, but they may be there to make the creature look bigger to predators. The actual eyes of the animal are located either side of the eye spots.
Yeah, it’s super bizarre. And if this creature has ignited a desire to learn more about eight-legged friends that look like other animals – for some reason – then we’ve got you covered. In January this year, scientists described 18 new species of pelican spiders that, you guessed it, look just like pelicans.
What’s next, an arachnid that looks like an elephant? An ant that looks like a monkey? Or perhaps a wasp that looks like a human? Only time will tell. For now, all hail our new dog-arachnid overlords.