South Africa's Londolozi Private Game Reserve is famed for its big cat sightings. Visitors to the reserve often leave with jaw-dropping photos of male lions locked in battle, or leopards draped over tree branches like only leopards can.

But on a recent early-morning game drive, Londolozi ranger Guy Brunskill and his guests came across something a little different. Instead of tawny fur or black rosettes, they caught a glimpse of something "spidery" scuttling across the road.

Brunskill pumped the brakes on the safari vehicle and everyone hopped out for a closer look. "When you look around you, you can find fascinating creatures big and small everywhere, and sometimes, you see something so unusual that it rivals even the best big cat experience," Brunskill wrote over on the Londolozi blog.

The lightning-quick creature turned out to be a solifugid, a small, spider-like arachnid sometimes called a Red Roman. Trapped in its impressive pincer-like chelicerae ("jaws") was an unfortunate millipede. Solifugids – also known as camel spiders, wind scorpions or sun spiders – are ferocious hunters that will gobble down pretty much anything they can grasp.

Although they're not armed with claws, their pedipalps have an adhesive sucker, which helps them hold onto prey or climb up vertical surfaces. Similar to other arachnids, these speedy hunters have four pairs of legs; however, the front pair are usually smaller.

Snakes, lizards and rodents are all on the menu. Nearly all species of solifugids lack venom, but they make up for it with those enormous "jaws", which come in handy for tearing apart live prey into more manageable-sized chunks.

"Recently there has been some serious warfare going on between the various coalitions of male lions on Londolozi, but on that morning we found a battle of another kind. Despite the size of the creatures involved, it was just as fierce and amazing to watch," Brunskill said.

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Top header image: Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr