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Desert Diary



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How would you like to go through life labeled as something false. Well, various plants and animals of our Chihuahuan Desert have to do just that, thanks to naturalists. It's done a little bit sneakily, however, by putting the label in a foreign language. Latin, that is. Pseudo is Latin for false. Someone using a pseudonym, for example, is using a false name.

One group of the more interesting little folk of our desert consists of the pseudoscorpions. Now, scorpions are a widely known group, well noted for their venom, if nothing else. So, don't you think that being labeled a false scorpion somehow is demeaning? Kind of puts you in mind of the comedian whose punch line is, "I don't get no respect".

These little fellows, a millimeter or two in length, really deserve better. The front end looks somewhat scorpion-like, with pincer-bearing legs waving ominously in the air. But the hind end lacks the drawn out abdomen terminating in a stinger. Alas, perhaps the only way to get respect around here is to wave around a weapon! pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Images of pseudoscorpions

Pseudoscorpions. Images courtesy of Charlie Drewes, Iowa State University.



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