Researchers Alessandro Ponce de Leao Giupponi and Gustavo Silva de Miranda found the new whip spiders in the Brazilian states of Pará and Amazonas. All of the spiders belong to the order Amblypygi and are of the genus Charinus. They include C. bichuetteae, C. bonaldoi, C. carajas, C. ferreus, C. guto, C. orientalis, C. brescoviti, and C. ricardoi.
"Brazil now becomes the country with the largest diversity of Amblypygi in the world, with 25 known species," the researchers, both from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, wrote.
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The name "amblypygid" means "blunt rump," and refers to the spiders' lack of a flagellum or tail that is seen in actual whip scorpions. The spiders possess no silk glands or poisonous fangs. When they grab a person, the sensation is a bit like being pricked by a rose thorn. Such attacks can stun or crush the spiders' tiny insect prey, though.
They are very social and gregarious creatures, so some people even keep them as pets. Half of the new species are already considered to be highly endangered, however, so saving the spiders in their own habitat is the priority now.
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The researchers say the greatest threats to the spiders are mining activities and the construction of highways and hydroelectric dams.
Highways hurt the movement of many native species and both directly and indirectly increase deforestation. Hydroelectric dams, on the other hand, can cause the spiders' habitat to flood.
The authors added, "With the increasing threats towards the Amazon forest, it is important to unveil whip spider diversity before they disappear, as most of them are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and could help (in) identifying priority areas for directing conservation efforts."
Photo: One of eight new species of whip spider found in the Brazilian Amazon. Credit: Giupponi et al.