The Biology of Camel Spiders (Arachnida Solifugae), by Fred Punzo
Information on the biology of the solifugae (Sun-Spiders, Sun-Scorpions, Wind-Spiders etc.) has been up to now extremely difficult to locate. The publication of this book is extremely welcome, and will be much appreciated by anybody who has an interest in these fascinating creatures.
Generally speaking this is a well presented and well written, readable yet scholarly account of all that is known of the biology of the solifugae. It reflects and is enlightened by, as are all good monographs, the years of dedication and love expended by the author in gathering the expertise necessary to write the book. Typos occur in any work and one more noticeable one in this work on page 239 where it occurs in a title i.e. "A Kay to the South American Ammotrechidae". The existence of the keys is a great bonus to this work and will undoubtedly help stimulate other research into these wonderful creatures. Other keys include: one to families; one to subfamilies and genera of North America and Mexico; one to the genera for Israel; and one to genera for South Africa
Chapter one gives a short general introduction to the solifugae. Following on from this are five chapters on solifugae biology. Chapter two on functional anatomy and physiology gives you a good fundamental image of the animal in question. This is continued in chapter 3 on neurobiology which also makes a good general case for a greater understanding of the importance of neurobiology in understanding behaviour. Chapter four details what little is known of the life-history strategies of the solifugae. Following which chapters five and six (ecology and behaviour respectively) finish of the job of placing the animal in the context of its environment. These two chapters perhaps more than any others reveal how much work there still is to be done on these creatures. Chapter seven is 'Phylogeny, Biogeogrphy and Taxonomy' and contains the keys as well as a map of the world distribution of the solifugae. Chapter eight is 'Field Techniques and Laboratory Methods', a useful addition for anyone tempted to begin some research into these itinerant desert survivors.
All in all a fascinating book, well written and well worth the writing.
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