Scientists discover 33 new spider species

An early morning scene at Indore. Dew drops on a spider web. A file photo.

An early morning scene at Indore. Dew drops on a spider web. A file photo.

Scientists have discovered 33 new trapdoor spider species in Southwest America belonging to the genus that includes a notable species named after US President Barack Obama.

These newly described species belong to the genus Aptostichus that now contains 40 famous species including Aptostichus barackobamai, named after Obama.

Jason Bond, who is a trapdoor spider expert and director of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History was excited at the prospect of such a remarkable and large find of new species in the US.

“California is known as what is characterised as a biodiversity hotspot. Although this designation is primarily based on plant diversity, the region is clearly very rich in its animal diversity as well.

“While it is absolutely remarkable that a large number of species from such a heavily populated area have gone unnoticed, it clearly speaks volumes to how little we know of the biodiversity around us and that many more species on the planet await discovery ” Mr. Bond said in a statement.

Like other trapdoor spider species, individuals are rarely seen because they live their lives in below-ground burrows that are covered by trapdoors, made by the spider using mixtures of soil, sand, or plant material, and silk.

The trapdoor serves to hide the spider when it forages for meals at the burrow entrance, usually at night.

Aptostichus species are found in an amazing number of Californian habitats to include coastal sand dunes, chaparral, desert, oak woodland forests, and at high altitudes in the alpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Mr. Bond said, “this particular group of trapdoor spiders are among some of the most beautiful with which I have worked, species often have gorgeous tiger-striping on their abdomens“.

He noted that while a number of the species have rather fanciful names, his favourite is the one named for his daughter Elisabeth.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 7:19:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/scientists-discover-33-new-spider-species/article4228645.ece