by Arejece Juridice
Foreword: I spent a total of seven years of my youth in Skyrim studying the frostbite spiders. I left the province to pursue other academic endeavours, but returned to continue my studies. In nests commonly inhabited by frostbite spiders I found other beasts with skull-like markings on their carapaces. The locals called them Skulltulas. I performed tests and experiments on specimens and delved into the history of the province to glean more information on these curious beasts I somehow never saw in seven years. What follows is a summary of my findings.
Skulltulas historically possessed skull-markings on their abdomens and traditionally spun webs from which they hung to catch prey. This is much different from the modern Skulltula, which seems to be related to the frostbite spider. My initial hypothesis was that perhaps the web-spinning Skulltulas bred with frostbite spiders, but their internal structures are far too different.
First, the exoskeleton of a frostbite spider is denser than that of a Skulltula.
Second, Skulltulas excrete a venom with distinctly different effects compared to frostbite venom. Skulltula venom will ravage a victim's muscles, making them weaker and easier to pursue and kill.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the epigyne of a female Skulltula is less complex than that of a frostbite spider. Perhaps this is to make procreation easier.
The ancient Skulltulas are mentioned by the Dwemer as being disgusted by humanoids, going so far as to turn away when faced by man or mer. This behaviour seems to have developed into hate, as Skulltulas will attack intruders to their nests, spitting venom and striking with bladed palps.
The Skulltulas and frostbite spiders are a remarkable case of convergent evolution. Two different species have adapted to the same environment with very similar means. The possibility exists that Skulltulas and frostbite spiders are distant cousins, but I cannot find evidence of such an idea.
One struggle I had in researching the Skulltulas was determining how their skull-markings came to be on their carapaces rather than their abdomens. Dwemer writings consistently refer to the skull-markings of a Skulltula's abdomen. I have, however, uncovered ancient Nord writings concerning Skulltulas that reference only carapaces with regards to skull-markings. Dwemer records also exist of "white and brown spiders." I hypothesise that Skulltulas were hunted to extinction by the Dwemer or Falmer, and used in rituals by the latter. Skulltulas with the more frightening carapace markings may have deterred the superstitious, allowing them to procreate in peace.
On Skulltulas includes speculation as to the coexistence of Skulltulas and frostbite spiders, as well as allusions to Ancient Nord and Dwemer legends related to the spiders.
The book also provides possible in-universe explanations for the differences between Relics of Hyrule Skulltulas and traditional Skulltulas.
Background and Inspiration Edit
On Skulltulas was included to provide lore-based context for the Skulltulas, and was written in with some scientific inspiration.
In previous versions of the mod, the book made mention of the bones of Skulltulas and frostbite spiders, but this was removed to avoid inconsistencies with other pieces of lore.