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Ricinulei: Reproduction & Facts

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of the hooded tick spiders. These rare and tiny arachnids are only found in certain places on Earth. In this lesson, we'll look at their characteristics, habitat, and mating.

An Unusual Order

When you hear the word 'arachnid' you probably tend to think of spiders. But the class Arachnida is home to many creatures, including ticks, mites, and scorpions. It is also where we find the order Ricinulei, or the hooded tick spiders. Don't let the name fool you because these guys aren't true spiders, just cousins of their more famous relative.

Like other arachnids, hooded tick spiders belong to the phylum Arthropoda, which is the largest and most diverse phylum of the animal kingdom. And also like other arachnids, hooded tick spiders are predatory critters and have eight legs. This order is especially rare though, with only about 58 known living species. They are found in humid areas of Africa, Central and South America, and the southern United States.

Though they are related, Ricinulei are not true spiders
hooded tick spider

Characteristics of Ricinulei

Ricinuleids are small animals, only about 5 - 10 mm. They have a very thick exoskeleton and true to their name they also have a hood called a cucullus, which can be raised or lowered over the head. The hood is also where females will carry their eggs until they hatch.

These young hooded tick spiders only have six legs at first but will develop another pair of legs later in life. And while adult hooded tick spiders do have eight legs, four are used for walking while the others are modified as sensory organs or feeding appendages. The chelicerae of hooded tick spiders are jaw-like mouthparts that are used to help with eating, and that also have sensory organs.

Similar to their arachnid cousins, hooded tick spiders have two body segments: the cephalothorax, called the prosoma, which is a fused head and thorax, and the opisthosoma or abdomen.

The prosoma (2) and an opisthosoma (3) of arachnids
arachnid body segments

Habitat and Mating

As mentioned, ricinuleids prefer humid environments, so you're likely to find them in places like caves and the leaf litter of tropical rainforests.

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