New spider species is ‘fearsomeness incarnate’
There’s a new spider species in the world, but its roots may date back centuries.
“Meet Trogloraptor, fearsomeness incarnate,” Scientific American reported Friday, following the discovery of Trogloraptor marchingtoni, part of the new Trogloraptoridae family by a group of scientists at the Western Cave Conservancy and San Diego State University.
After finding the arachnid in a group of caves in Oregon, the team sent specimens to the California Academy of Sciences (CAS), where researchers determined that its unique features merited the creation of the new genus, species and family names.
Trogloraptor is Latin for “cave robber,” a nod to both its habitat and unusually curved talons, which might be used for hunting. According to The Telegraph, research suggests it catches food by hanging from silk strands from a cave roof and trapping prey with its claws and long legs.
However, CAS arachnology curator Charles Griswold said said the species is unlikely to be venomous; its primary behavior so far seems to be escaping light as quickly as possible.
The team’s findings were published in the journal ZooKeys, where it’s speculated that the Cave Robber might be related to a much older species, the Oonopidae, commonly known as goblin spiders, itself part of the Dysderoidea “superfamily.”
“If Trogloraptoridae are the most primitive living members of the Dysderoidea we have another case of a notable relict from Western North America,” the report says. “If such a large and bizarre spider could have gone undetected for so long, who knows what else may lurk undiscovered in this remarkable part of the world.”