On the ‘Fly-Lion’

Another excerpt from al-Ghazali’s work on nature; this time however I am not sure what creature our author is referring to- it sounds rather like a jumping spider, which al-Ghazali may have differentiated from web-building spiders (the subject of the paragraph following the one translated here; you may read it here).

So look to the animal that is called ‘fly-lion,’ and what he has been given of slyness and subtlety, through which he seeks his sustenance. You will find him feeling for a fly which has alighted near him- he remains motionless for a long time, so that is as if he is dead or his body has no motion left in it. Then, if he senses that the fly has become still, he creeps discreetly lest the fly bolt- then, when he is close enough to the fly that he can get him with one jump, he springs on the fly and seizes him, and when he has the fly he enfolds his body about the fly completely, lest the fly escape from him. And he does not stop his grasping until he feels the cessation of the fly’s motion- then he turns in on the fly and receives his nourishment from what is suitable for him in the fly. So behold this subtlety in his action, created on account of his sustenance- glory to the Creator, the Wise!

Abū Ḥāmed Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ghazālī (1058-1111), The Wisdom in God’s Creation

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