My friend Jeff photographed this critter in the North-West USA.
He says: "... from the side it looks like a giant ant but furry and moves very fast, about an inch long, I have only come across two of them while in the forest."
What the heck is that thing? An inch long is very big for an insect in cold climate, but it does not look like a spider. And for sure it's no mamal. What is big and furry like that, if it's not a spider?
This is a pretty amazing shot. (It's a small crop from a big picture.) Jeff had to walk fast just to follow the dang critter! Getting focus right and no motion blur is tough under those circumstances. He took it with a Nikon D40x with a standard zoom.
This second pic shows the head a little better.
I like the abstract shapes in the picture.
And the incredible intensity of the critter's color makes the picture seem like it's been manipulated.
I think we have a winner! (That was fast). Thanks to Magnetic Mary. It seems to be a "velvet ant".
The females are wingless and look like ants, but they are actually wasps! They sting, so don't handle them. (I was not about to!)
Here is a full version (and large) version of this picture, just in case you like it as much as I do. I have it on my desktop now.
Thanks to Jeff, the ole stone guy.