Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

My Brush with a Camel Spider

For those of you who have not seen a camel spider before, here is a picture sent to me by a friend at the CPA of a couple of these august arachnids (click on the picture for the full effect). There are all sorts of myths about these spiders here in Iraq (that they aggressively chase people, etc.), but I can assure you that they do exist, and that they seem to like to congregate in the outhouses at night. We have not had any as large as the ones in this picture at FOB Bernstein, but we do get some "babies" which are about the size of small tarantulas. The base is a former Iraqi air force installation, and the bunkers that quarter the troops look like pyramids with the squared off tops. Last night, I was reclining against the base of one of the bunkers grabbing a smoke with Specialist Dickens, when he exclaimed that something big just moved. I stood up, and a few inches from where I was sitting was one of these nice-sized "baby" camel spiders. Dickens quickly transformed it into a Rorschach spot on the side of the bunker. For the naturalists out there, I have also seen one scorpion at Bernstein. It was small and black, which I have been told makes it among the more dangerous varieties. I also saw a large number of bats in Baghdad, swooping in and out of the tall lights to capture insects drawn to the glow.

UPDATE: I received this picture from a friend at CPA who specifically claimed that it was not a forgery, but based upon the posts, there is reason to believe that it may have been modified. I will be a bigger man than the Boston Globe (which to my knowledge still has not apologized for running a story showing pictures held by protesters which were supposed to depict soldiers raping Iraqis, but were in reality pictures taken from porn sites) and retract any endorsement of the picture barring verification of its origins and validity. As for the content of my post, the information at the Urban Legend web site, which lists the leg span of camel spiders at approximately 5 inches, is consistent with my experience and my report above that the spiders I have personally seen are roughly the size of small tarantulas.

Discussions - 24 Comments

I hate to ruin a good story, but the photo that you posted along with your comments about camel spiders has been circulating around the web for some time now, and is regarded as being a fake. (Please note that by "fake," I mean that it is quite possible that the spiders in the image are real, but some element of misdirection was involved so as to make them appear much larger than they actually are.)

For more, visit: Urban Legends Reference Pages

Isn’t this the point at which Ashton Kutcher jumps out from behind Alt’s tent and screams "Robert Alt, you just got PUNK’D!!!"?

I’ve seen this photo before as well. If you look on the right hand side of the image, you can see the shirt sleeve and part of the palm of the soldier holding the spiders. They look much larger than they are because the human eye/brain automatically focuses in on the other soldier’s leg and automatically uses it for scale.

Wow, its not at all like a Conservative to encounter something on the internet and blindly accept it as fact.

Starbuck’s final statement is wholly inappropriate. The photo IS real, despite the fact that there’s an inadvertant illusion involved. Alt never said the spider was as big as a soldier’s thigh, did he?

Grow up.

When we go fishing, it is common for us to hold up our catch with our arms strait out. It causes the fish to look much bigger than it actually is. What it does not do, however is turn the fish into something else. It is still a fish.

Makes a nice analagy to the war on terror, come to think of it. A few soldiers commit atrocities at a prision, and it becomes a rallying cry for the SecDef to step down.

A few people protest something, and the media makes it sound like the whole of Iraq is against us. Mr. Alt, however brings it back into perspective through his posts.

I’d again like to thank all Americans in Iraq (including Alt) for their bravery and heroism.

John

Starbuck’s final statement is wholly inappropriate. The photo IS real, despite the fact that there’s an inadvertant illusion involved. Alt never said the spider was as big as a soldier’s thigh, did he? Grow up.

This is what I love about you Conservatives. You’re content to sit back and take pot shots at Liberals all day long. But as soon as someone throws just the smallest amount of it back your way, you start wailing and shrieking like a bunch of little girls. I think it is YOU who needs to grow up.

PS: Too bad good ole "Dennis" didn’t bother to actually READ my comments. If he had, he’d know that I never said that Alt said that spider was as big as the soldier’s thigh. And if he bothered to do any homework at all, he’d know that the illusion is not inadvertent (so there we go with the whole Conservatives blindly accepting whatever is thrown at them thing again). Starbuck 2, Dennis 0.

When we go fishing, it is common for us to hold up our catch with our arms strait out. It causes the fish to look much bigger than it actually is. What it does not do, however is turn the fish into something else. It is still a fish.

Actually, John, the proper way to hold a fish is to hold it adjacent to the fisherman’s body and by the lip (so the fish is held vertically), careful not to distort the fish’s jaws. Too many fishermen hold the fish by its jaws and then try to rotate the fish horizontally (as John alludes to), putting tremendous strain on the fish’s jaws. And the idea behind holding the fish adjacent to the fisherman’s body is precisely for the purpose of getting an accurate sense of scale when photos are taken.

Of course, if we use John’s analogy, then it sounds to me like Conservatives have been taking the fish, busting its jaws wide open and then throwing it thirty feet in the distance before taking the photo.

Sheesh, why am I not surprised that a Conservative would cheat when it comes to fishing?

Robert, I did not mean to imply that you intentionally posted a forged photo. I hope that neither your nor the readers of this blog took my comments that way.

The Boston Globe did apologize for the fake Iraqi rape photos on May 13. See: Boston Globe apologizes for photo.

Be safe, Robert.

Listen Starbuck, I’ve cought fish that we had to shoot with a .410 before we brought it into the boat. My concern about a fish’s jaw is rather minor. Now, if you can tell me that somehow the flavor of the fish is better when I don’t "put tremendous strain on the fish’s jaws", I’ll stop holding them by their mouth... Instead I’ll just nail them to the fish scaler.

However, let me tell you about the King Salmon that I cought last summer in Alaska. It was the biggest fish I cought all week. It was also, a very pregnant female. I gently took a picture of this 50 pound beauty, and released her moments later... I’m sure that there are now roughly 4,000 salmon in the Ocean that are greatful I sent her back.

John

Actually, John... I was referring to holding a fish that you are going to release. A shred of common sense would dictate that if you killed the fish, it wouldn’t much matter how you hold it. Perhaps I gave you too much credit.

As for your catch last summer, I suppose that for a Conservative, releasing the fish qualifies as your environmental contribution for the year, eh? Give us your address, so we can be sure to let EPA know where to send the medal.

Wow - isn’t it ironic that liberals are known as the compassionate, caring party, yet Starbuck is spewing hatred from every orafice?

I don’t remember taking any potshots. Scanning the comments, however, I see that you’ve taken potshots at nearly every single poster.

As far as research, www.snopes.com, the most respected source on urban legends, claims the camel-spider photo is real and says there’s no way to tell whether it was purposefully manipulated to make the spider look bigger.

http://www.snopes.com/photos/bugs/camelspider.asp

So it sounds like Starbuck is the one to blindly accept what’s thrown at him (just as I’m sure he does when he reads the morning paper).

I’ll ignore all the invective and write that while the spider may not be two-feet wide as it appears, it still looks like a nasty bugger anyway! Yikes!

Ah, Dennis... Both your selective memory and your apparent inability to read continue to amuse. Did it escape your attention that I am the one who posted the Snopes link in the first place, silly boy? And did it escape your attention that I stated right away that the spider photo WAS real, but simply manipulated? Apparently so...

As for me your apparent inability to find instances where Conservatives have taken potshots at liberals, you’ve got to be kidding me. But then again, I guess we can chalk that one up to your inability to read, too. Poor Dennis... just another casualty of Bush’s Education policies.

Wow. All of this controversy over a spider picture.

Actually, Starbuck, my release of the fish wasn’t an enviromental contribution, rather, I was trying to ensure that I’d have even more fish to catch on my next trip...

Starbuck, looks like to me that Ulysses posted the Snopes link first, not you. And I never claimed that conservatives never take potshots at liberals - only that I hadn’t taken potshots at you.

Apparently, you’re the one not paying attention. I guess you’re too busy trying to come up with clever insults and stroking your obviously over-inflated ego.

Starbuck, looks like to me that Ulysses posted the Snopes link first, not you. And I never claimed that conservatives never take potshots at liberals - only that I hadn’t taken potshots at you.

The point is, Dennis, that you WERE NOT the first to post the Snopes link (which you botched horribly anyway). And you would have known as much had you bothered to go back and do some reading before shooting off your mouth. Instead, I had to make you look like a silly little fool for about the fourth time in as many days. And if you weren’t trying to claim that Conservatives don’t take potshots at liberals, what was the point of even bringing it up? What’s next? You gonna post to tell us that it is cloudy today?

Apparently, you’re the one not paying attention. I guess you’re too busy trying to come up with clever insults...

Nah, I don’t waste the A Material on you Denny. I hold on to that for Schramm, Moser and the gang. You don’t deserve the A Material, especially when the B stuff does such an effective job of putting you in your place.

Starbuck, please read the comments before you post lies about others’ comments. Thanks you!

Starbuck, your comments aren’t even making sense anymore. Regardless of your political affiliation, you’re a sad, deluded little man, and you haven’t insulted me.

Come now, Dennis... Is that REALLY the best you can do, or are you going to run off with your tail in between your legs? Perhaps I’m making sense because I’m using these things called WORDS. For your benefit, I’ll inquire as to the possibilities of posting future comments using pictures only.

Guys and Gals, same as all other blogs...dont feed the trolls.

Poor Sam must be awfully hungry.

Ive seen larger ones in israël. And by the way, they are not poisonous and not the spider that eats arms and legs, thats a nother spider kind in egypt. The spiders showing in the pics are commmonly known as sunspiders

What’s really funny is that these are not even actual spiders. They are classified as something wholly different. I hate crap like this that circulates just to freak people out.

still arent camel spiders bigger than that? thats still a pretty big spider....I'd be running! i hate spiders...especially the ones on that movie called 8 legged freaks...if i saw a spider THAT big, i's be calling the end of the world....as if the zombie apocalyps and the era of the aliens aren't enough, we're going to have 8 legged freaks come on to...And still to all this I say....BRING IT ON!!!!!!!

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