Schizomida: Characteristics & Identification

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Schizomida is an order of understudied arachnids. But don't worry, this lesson will explore what we do know about this tiny, strange-looking little organism, including characteristics and how to identify them.

Schizomida Defined

There's a lot we don't yet know. We don't know if life exists on other planets, we don't know how to cure certain diseases, and we don't know how many species live on earth. And there's moreā€¦ let me introduce you to a group of tiny arachnids called Schizomida or schizomids. This order of crawly critters, also called short-tailed whipscoripions, hasn't been studied much, and scientists don't know a whole lot about them. Let's explore what we do know about this order, starting with their shared characteristics and how to identify them.

Characteristics and Identification

There are over 200 species belonging to the Schizomida order, and chances are there are more out there waiting to be discovered. As we already mentioned, they are a type of arachnid, which is a large group of organisms consisting of spiders, scorpions, mites, daddy long-legs, and ticks. While schizomids look somewhat like other arachnids, they are really small, with most species being under 1 cm in length (about the width of your pinky finger).

Let's take a little anatomy tour of this group. Because they are so small, let's zoom in and check out the large pedipalps, which are the second set of appendages on arachnids. The pedipalps of most arachnids move back and forth; however, in Schizomida they move up and down. While we are in the head region, check out the two-segmented chelicerae, which are the mouth-part appendages that can be modified into pincers or claws in some species of arachnid.

The image on the left shows the pedipalps in green and the flagellum (described below). The image on the right shows the chelicerae.

Like most arachnids, schizomids are predators, using their pedipalps to capture prey and their chelicerae to crush up that prey.

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