A real camel spider. Much smaller than a dinner plate. And quiet. Not capable of screaming. (Getty Images)
On several occasions photos of huge camel spiders, the size of a human’s calf, have exploded across the internet, accompanied by alarming stories describing how the spiders attacked and partially consumed a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq. In each case the soldier reportedly was completely unaware of his plight until he awakened in the morning to find chunks of his flesh missing.
Although specific details of the story vary, they are almost always attached to the same photo and are reported by a friend of one of the actual soldiers involved:
“This’ll give you a better idea of what our troops are dealing with. Warning: not for the squeamish! These things are huge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They run 25 mph, jump three feet, are a nocturnal spider, so only come out at night unless they are in shade. They are the size of dinner plates and when they bite you, you are injected with Novocain so you go numb instantly. You don’t even know you are bitten when you are sleeping, so you wake up with part of your leg or arm missing because it has been gnawing on it all night long. This is a perfect example of why you don’t want to go to the military. These are 2 of the biggest I’ve ever seen. With a vertical leap that would make a pro basketball player weep with envy (they have to be able to jump up on to a camel’s stomach, after all), they latch on and inject a local anesthesia so you can’t feel it feeding on you. They eat flesh, not just suck out your juices like a normal spider, and they scream bloody hell when they run.”