START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,499,317 people care about Environment & Wildlife

What’s That on Your Leg? Crazy New Spider Discoveries of 2014

What’s That on Your Leg? Crazy New Spider Discoveries of 2014

As humans wade into nature’s domain more than ever before, we’re discovering vast new swaths of species we never knew existed. Spiders, in particular, have taken center stage as new discoveries of largely unknown arachnids, in all shapes and sizes, come to light.

Is this the foreboding spiderpocalypse we’ve all been waiting for? Well, not quite. But let’s explore these new arrivals anyway. Recently in China, researchers discovered five new species simply by wandering into a cave. Here, ‘armored’ spiders belonging to the Tetrablemmidae family were found scuttling around on the floors of the cave. While the term ‘armored spiders’ may bring up visions of super-arachnids that can’t be squashed, in fact they are considered ‘armored’ because the intricate patterns on their abdomen resembles old fashioned body armor. Another distinguishing factor of these creatures? A large backside, giving these spiders a rather zaftig appearance.

The team of researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has encountered hundreds of cave dwelling spiders that range from completely blind to having four eyes. These creepy crawlers spend their days dashing along the damp cave floors, hiding under leaves and moss. The findings took place in South China’s Karst region, which includes three provinces and is a designated UNESCO Heritage Site. The diverse ecology of the region, including humid forests, unexplored caves and myriad of dark, damp areas make it a veritable spider paradise. So it should come as no surprise that the discovery of known spider species in the region has soared in the past few years.

A world away in the Amazon, bizarre web formations in Peru were discovered by graduate student Troy Alexander. They included a thick ‘tower formation’ surrounded by what looks like a white picket fence. Having no idea what it was, he posted pictures across message boards trying to find a hit. Experts weighed in with their experts opinions and came up with, well, nothing.

Jellybean goblin spider, credit: Queensland museum

The real discovery didn’t come until they actually just sat and watched what happened. For days they stayed in the jungle, just waiting. Yet no movement appeared on the web. Finally, after carefully removing three webs, and watching them under glass, tiny brown spiderlings began to emerge. Although researchers still have no idea what species makes these web-towers, they’ve found more than 50 formations in the wild.

In Australia, a little spider belonging to the goblin spider family was recently discovered in Queensland. Dubbed the ‘jellybean spider’ with its brown-reddish hue and somewhat transparent armored belly, this tiny arachnid was found wandering around the rainforests of the Bunya Mountains.

Meanwhile in Borneo, students on a class project found tiny red and black spiders crawling along the forest floor. A microscope, rigged to an iPhone of all things, was used to determine a brand new species making webs amongst the fallen leaves.

Poecilotheria rajaei

Yet of all the new spider species discovered in 2014, nothing quite compares to last year’s discovery in Sri Lanka.

In the dark, dilapidated quarters of an old abandoned hospital, a monster appeared. This venomous spider, which is the size of a human face, and moves faster than most tarantulas, was confirmed as a new species. This Goliath of an arachnid is usually found hanging out on the trunks of old trees.

However, the deforestation of northern Sri Lanka had prompted some of these spiders to move into older homes and crumbling lots, where it was discovered by locals (and later shown to scientists). The distinct markings of the female, including yellow spots on the legs, and a pink stripe around the body, has made it one of the most fascinating discoveries as of yet.

And although we joke about spiders being monsters, lurkers, and creepy crawlers, spiders are in fact a tremendous part of our Earth’s ecosystem. In many parts of the world, nonvenomous spiders are considered part of the household, catching unwanted pests and the far more dangerous mosquitoes that plague homes.

They have been around for 400 million years, and will likely inhabit Earth long after humans have left it. Each new discovery tells us a little more about our planet and how these fascinating creatures evolve and adapt, and for that they’ve earned our respect and protection.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m fairly sure something is crawling up my leg right now.

Read more: , , , ,

Photo of blind armor spiders, credit:

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

236 comments

+ add your own
12:01PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

the deforestation of Sri Lanka, now an overpopulated polluted hell like China (and most of Asia) busy exporting products with slave labor for insatiable Western corporations.

8:54AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

Thank you. Creepily interesting article :)

4:39AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

Spiders scare me to death!!

6:49AM PDT on Apr 10, 2014

amazing

1:46PM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

Yikes.

6:53PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Always nice to see new discoveries popping up here and there =)

1:18PM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

I love spiders. They are amazing sophisticated creatures. And obvious they have a specific role into world's variate ecosystems.

8:00AM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

Thank you.

9:45PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

I just KNEW that people who hated spiders would feel compelled to download this article!!! I must admit when I first came to Australia, years ago I was appalled at the ENORMOUS mop-sized Huntsmen I saw in WA. The ironical thing is that the first one I saw was the biggest one I have ever seen! Typical! I am afraid if you live here you have two options.. You either spend your life indoors and spray your house with toxic spider spray which is about as harmful as spider venom, but doesn't look so creepy, OR you just have to expose yourself to your fear and get on with it! I decided on the latter course of action! I went to great pains to teach my chidren to respect spiders and not be scared of them When they were little I used to get them to show me every spider they saw and I would tell them if they were good spiders of naughty ones! Then, if it was a 'naughty spider: ( Redbacks etc.) we sould say "Naughty spider!" and mummy would take it outside! I have to admit that I still don't feel very comfotrable getting into bed and seeing a mammoth Huntsman on the ceiling over my bed as they have a habit of suddenly dropping! Much as I don't really feel frightened any more, I DO have feel a sense of disgust when one falls on your face when you are asleep and normally I have to put them outside before I can settle down for the night!

8:05AM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

People who say they HATE spiders are just very stupid, who can they hate them,fear them perhaps ie ARACHNAPHOBIA, never say you hate them they save you from much worse things & are part of the "web" of nature.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I have been researching healing properties of plants and the music they produce, yes they are capable…

Very sweet. The puppies aren't 'cleaning' the capybara though. They're very gently chewing on him! He…

That is the way it supposed to happen. For our five cats and a retired racing grey hound. That is their…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.