LOL! I used a clickbait headline again! But you really should pay attention to this bizarre arachnid: the pelican spider (also called the “assassin” spider). Note the eyes at the top, the bizarrely formed cephalothorax, and the very long chelicerae (jaws):
The specimen above, pictured in an article at the Mother Nature Network (MNN) appears to have had its legs removed, but here’s an intact one:
Why do they look like this? MNN explains:
Pelican spiders were introduced to science in 1854, when one of the bizarre-looking creatures was found preserved in 50 million-year-old amber. With a long neck-like structure and mouthparts protruding like an angled “beak,” the comparisons to a pelican were probably inevitable. Scientists initially thought pelican spiders were extinct, but then live specimens were found a few decades later — and that’s when the purpose behind their pelican-esque appearance became clear.
Pelican spiders, aka assassin spiders, evolved to look like this for good reason: They eat other spiders, and need a way to subdue their potentially dangerous prey from a safe distance. They’re active hunters, skulking through the night in search of silk draglines created by other spiders. When they find one, they follow the silk to its source, sometimes plucking on the spider’s web to trick it into coming closer. And once the unsuspecting prey is within range, a pelican spider will impale it with her long, fang-tipped “jaws” (actually appendages called chelicerae), as the Smithsonian Institution explains. She then uses her chelicerae to hold the prey away from her body, keeping herself safe from potential counterattacks until the captured spider dies (see photo below).
Spider at work:
These spiders are especially abundant in Madagascar, but are also found in Australasia and southern Africa. There’s a new paper reviewing the Madagascar group (see below, free access), but it’s nearly 100 pages long, full of morphological detail useful for taxonomy but not for us, and I haven’t read it. If you’re an arachnophile, have a go.
I couldn’t find a video of these things preying on other spiders, but this YouTube video gives a longer explanation and an animation of how they catch other spiders:
Wood, H. M. and N. Scharff. 2018. A review of the Madagascaran pelican spiders of the genus Eriauchenius O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1881, and Madagascarahaea gen. n. (Araneaa, Archaeidae). ZooKeys 727:1096.