New venomous critter in Yosemite

Just when you thought there were enough reasons to be nervous about camping, Mother Nature Network brings you, oh, a half-scorpion, half-spider that lives in the dark. Researchers have found a whole new venomous species in the granite caves of Yosemite National Park:

The creature is a type of pseudoscorpion, which are tiny arachnids that have abdomens like spiders, with eight spidery legs attached, but claws like scorpions. Unlike real scorpions, though, they lack a long post-abdomen stinger. Normally that would be good news, but this new species makes up for it by donning venom-filled claws instead.

Luckily the new pseudoscorpion (Parobisium yosemite) is also blind, slow-moving and very small, typically measuring no longer than about half an inch.

“We kept them in petri dishes with plaster of Paris that was moistened so it was more like cave conditions,” said [James] Cokendolpher [of Texas Tech]. “When we introduced other animals into the petri dish it would go over and tap the animal [with its venom-filled claws]. When it did that, it was able to sense chemical cues there such as identification, how large the item was and whether it was something suitable to eat.”

Actually, they look kind of cute.