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International Research Team Discovers New Species of Large Cave-Dwelling Spider in Mexico

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A report from Smithsonianmag.com states that the San Diego Natural History Museum has hit an arachno-gold mine in the scientific study department after researchers discovered a new species of large and hairy, cave-dwelling spider in an abandoned mine shaft in Baja California Sur. This newly discovered species was found to be the circumference of a saucer and bore red fangs.

International Research Team Discovers New Species of Large Cave-Dwelling Spider in Mexico

Photo: Facebook/Maxima Morelia 100.9 fm

Reading like a script page from the movie “8-Legged Freaks,” the museum team, together with Mexican and Brazilian experts found a peculiarly large exoskeleton dangling from the roof of a cave at their Mexican location. Jim Berrian, a museum etymologist, said he noted by its eye pattern it was from a group of nocturnal, wandering spiders which were found to be quite rare in the area. Subsequently, the research team determined to revisit the site at night and discovered what they now call the Califorctenus cacachilensis, or the Sierra Cacachilas wandering spider.

International Research Team Discovers New Species of Large Cave-Dwelling Spider in Mexico

Photo: Maxpixel

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Maria Luisa Jiminez stated, “In all my experience over the years collecting spiders on the peninsula, I had never seen a spider this large.” And those words coming from one who is considered to be the foremost expert on spiders of Baja California Sur are enough to send chills up the spine of those with arachnophobia! However, our fears could be allayed with the fact that while this creature may be related to the infamous Brazilian wandering spider (whose venom can kill a grown man), this new genus is venomous but of no danger to humans. In fact, Berrian was bitten by one in the process and lived to report on it.

International Research Team Discovers New Species of Large Cave-Dwelling Spider in Mexico

Photo: Wikipedia

Finding two dozen more of these creatures in and around the mine shaft, and local vicinity, was like striking it rich for the research team. Michael Wall, San Diego Museum of Natural History research team member and the spider’s co-discoverer, has noted that “The odds of discovering a new species are pretty high, but … generally, [most] new species discovered are itty-bitty things that people don’t pay attention to, so given the size of this spider, that was surprising.” If fact, according to a museum blog article, the majority of spiders and insects on this planet remain undiscovered, leaving anywhere from two to five million creatures yet enigmas to science, while just over one million species have been identified and named. If you’re reading this and worried that the newly found species (which was located in 2013) will make its way to Texas and join our other enormous critters (why not, right? Everything is big in Texas!), never-you-fear. The research team has advised that they believe this genus is endemic to certain areas of the Baja Peninsula (Mexico and the state of California) and were quoted as saying, “This spider has a very small range. Along with other endemics — birds and reptiles — altogether, it tells a story of the uniqueness of that area. And we can use that to justify protection.”

Sources:

Los Angeles Times

Smithsonianmag.com

KCBD 11, NBC