Is This Arachnid With the Face of a Bunny and Dog Morphed Together Cute or Terrifying?

Your eyes are not deceiving you. This tiny critter from the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador looks like the head of a black bunny rabbit—or possibly even that of a dog, depending on who you ask.

Known by its scientific name Metagryne bicolumnata, the strange creature was filmed and photographed by Andreas Kay in 2017, according to a post on the website Rumble. It was first described in 1959 by German zoologist Carl Friedrich Roewer.

Its dark abdomen features two unusual protuberances that resemble bunny or dog ears. These may serve to fool predators into thinking that the animal is larger than it is. Meanwhile, it also sports two small yellow spots, which are conveniently placed to look like the eyes in a face.

M. bicolumnata’s real eyes, however, are found further forward on the body, seemingly forming the nose of the bunny/dog.

While the bizarre creature has eight legs like a spider, it actually belongs to an order of animals known as Opiliones—colloquially referred to as harvestmen, harvesters or daddy longlegs—of which there are more than 6,600 known species across the globe.

Although they belong to different orders, spiders and harvestmen are both arachnids—a large and highly successful group of eight-legged, mainly land-dwelling invertebrates, which also includes scorpions, ticks and mites.

According to entomologists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), harvestmen—which have been around for about 400 million years—are characterized by having one basic body segment, two eyes at most and eight legs that are all attached to the abdomen. Roewer was responsible for describing almost a third of today’s known harvestmen species.

“They are usually found under logs and rocks, prefer moist habitat (although they can be found in the desert), often have long flexible legs (in the temperate Northern hemisphere but there are also short-legged daddy longlegs) and they do not produce silk so therefore they are never found in webs unless they are being eaten by spiders,” the UCR researchers wrote.

They mostly eat decomposing vegetative and animal matter, although some are opportunist predators if the chance presents itself. However, contrary to popular belief, harvestmen are not venomous. In fact, they are harmless—to humans at least.

42589465072_3dde8cfffa_o A metagryne bicolumnata specimen seen in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. Andreas Kay

“They do not have venom glands, fangs or any other mechanism for chemically subduing their food,” according to the UCR researchers. “Therefore, they do not have poison and, by the powers of logic, cannot be poisonous from venom. Some have defensive secretions that might be poisonous to small animals if ingested. So, for these daddy-long-legs, the tale is clearly false.”

Ecuador, where this Metagryne bicolumnata was photographed, is one of 17 so-called “megadiverse countries”—nations identified by Conservation International as harboring the majority of the Earth’s species and high numbers of endemic, or unique, species.

In fact, Ecuador has more biodiversity per square kilometer than any other nation on Earth. It boasts more than 1,660 bird species, 4,000 species of butterfly and more than 500 amphibians, in addition to unique flora—including over 4,300 orchid species.

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