The folks over at ScienceDaily.com have alerted us to a new and terrifying menace on the West Coast!!
The new spider breaks new ground in arachnology!
The article begins, “The forests of the coastal regions from California to British Columbia are renowned for their unique and ancient animals and plants, such as coast redwoods, tailed frogs, mountain beavers and the legendary Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch). Whereas Bigfoot is probably just fiction, a huge, newly discovered spider is very real. Trogloraptor (or “cave robber”) is named for its cave home and spectacular, elongate claws. It is a spider so evolutionarily special that it represents not only a new genus and species, but also a new family (Trogloraptoridae). Even for the species-rich insects and arachnids, to discover a new, previously unknown family is an historic moment.”
(Scanning electron micrograph – Trogloraptor spider claw)
As the boys over at Wired Science put it, “The spider is about 1.5 inches wide with its legs stretched out, bigger than a half-dollar coin. It was found living in loose strands of web hanging from cave ceilings and under forest debris. It wields a set of lethal-looking claws (right), but its hunting and fighting behaviors remain to be seen.”
Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences, San Diego State University, and citizen scientists from the Western Cave Conservancy all helped discover the spiders. The California Academy of Sciences team led the study to analyze and describe the new arachnid family.
Well done, geeks. We didn’t need to sleep tonight, anyway!
Images: California Academy of Sciences
- Charles Griswold, Tracy Audisio, Joel Ledford. An extraordinary new family of spiders from caves in the Pacific Northwest (Araneae, Trogloraptoridae, new family). ZooKeys, 2012; 215 (0): 77 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.215.3547