A team of amateur cave explorers and arachnologists has found a new family of spiders in caves and old-growth redwood forests in Oregon and California, US researchers said Friday.
Entomologists at the California Academy of Sciences said the spider, named Trogloaptor -- or "cave robber" -- for its lethal front claws, had such unique evolutionary features that it represented not just a new genus or species, but also a new family of spiders.
Trogloaptor (Yonhap News)
The study, published in the journal ZooKeys, noted that finding a new, previously unknown family was rare, even for species-rich insects and arachnids.
Trogloraptor hangs beneath rudimentary webs spun below cave ceilings. It measures about 1.6 inches (four centimeters) wide when its legs are extended.
The spider's impressive claws "suggest that they are fierce, specialized predators," though scientists have not yet determined what they eat and how they attack and kill their prey, according to the study.
It pointed to strong evidence suggesting Trogloraptor was a close relative of goblin spiders.
Citizen scientists from the Western Cave Conservancy and arachnologists from the California Academy of Sciences found the spiders living in caves in southwestern Oregon. Scientists from San Diego State University found more of the creatures in old-growth redwood forests in far northwestern California.
The California specimen has dusky markings that differ from the cave species, leading scientists to believe that there may be at least one more Trogloraptor species.
Research on the spiders at the California Academy of Sciences was paid in part by the National Science Foundation, along with a private fund.
The forests in the coastal regions from California to the Canadian province of British Columbia are known for hosting unique and ancient flora and fauna, including tailed frogs, mountain beavers and coast redwoods.
"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," the study said. (AP)
'육식 거미' 발견! 치명적인 발톱으로 공격
미국 오리건주 동굴과 캘리포니아주 삼나무 숲속에서 육식을 할 것으로 보이는 새로운 거미과(科)가 발견됐다.
아마추어 동굴 탐험가들이 오리건주 동굴에서 발견한 이 거미는 다리를 벌릴 때 폭이 4㎝ 정도 크기로 동굴 천장에 거미줄로 매달려 있다.
동굴에 사는 이 거미는 치명적인 앞발톱 때문에 '동굴 강도'라는 뜻의 '트록로 랩터(Trogloraptor)'라는 이름이 붙었다.
캘리포니아과학아카데미의 거미 연구자들은 이 거미가 진화의 특성이 매우 독특 하다면서 단지 새 속(屬)이나 종(種)이 아니라 새로운 과(科)라고 말했다.
과학자들은 종이 풍부한 곤충과 거미라 할지라도 알려지지 않은 새 과 생물을 찾는 것은 매우 드문 일이라고 설명했다.
이들은 이 거미의 날카로운 발톱을 볼 때 사나운 전문적인 육식동물일 것이라면서 무엇을 어떻게 잡아먹는지는 아직 모른다고 말했다.