Eight New Spiders Grab (Don't Bite) Humans
A batch of new spiders that grab their victims, including threatening humans, have just been found in Brazil.
Eight new species of whip spiders look threatening, but these newly found arachnids from the Amazon region of Brazil don't bite - they just grab.
The newfound creepy crawlies double the known number of species of this type of spider in Brazil, according to new research in PLOS ONE.
Whip spiders worldwide, also known as tailless whip scorpions, have scared many because of their resemblance to venomous stinging scorpions. They are, however, harmless to people, which they grab instead of bite, as this video shows:
You can also get a really good look at another whip spider in the below video.
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.
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.
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.
This is one of eight new species of whip spider found in the Brazilian Amazon.
You almost feel for them, spiders. They can't help being what they are, and yet almost no one is happy to see them. Especially true when they have exceedingly long legs, thick bodies and a general mien that makes you turn quickly in some other direction. Photos don't bite, though, so let's take a look at some honking-big spiders -- with Halloween on the way, we may as well get started freaking ourselves out. Shown here is the Brazilian wandering spider (a.k.a.
), a feisty and venomous crawler from South America. Just four years ago it took home an award from the Guinness World Record people for the title of "most venomous" spider. This spidey's legs can span nearly 6 inches, its body just shy of 2 inches. It gets its name thanks to its preference for strolling along the tropic floor at night seeking out prey, rather than building webs or hiding out someplace waiting to strike. During the day, it lays low wherever it's convenient -- even inside banana plants, which is how it get its nickname "banana spider."
Not to be outdone is a spider that's been making a big splash of late, with an entomologist's
. It's called the Goliath bird-eater (a.k.a.,
). It can weigh in at almost 6 ounces and it's been known to reach nearly a foot in leg-span. The "bird eater" moniker must be there to warn birds away, though, because this spider doesn't typically eat birds as a matter of, er, course. It will regularly eat small land animals such as frogs, lizards, and snakes, however.
Meet the golden-silk orb weaver spider. Step into its parlor, if you must. Don't be fooled by its deceptively gentle-sounding name. The female golden-silk orb weaver's body alone can reach 2 inches, its legs can stretch to more than 5 inches, and it's even been observed killing and eating tree snakes. What's more, a study published earlier this year found that these spiders, when living in urban areas,
than usual. Interesting side-note: The golden-silk orb weaver also belongs to the oldest surviving genus of spiders,
, which has a fossil in the record that dates to 165 million years ago.
The Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula has a leg-span that can reach 11 inches and weight that can tip the scales (well, for a spider) at about 3.5 ounces. Despite its name, it's not confirmed that they actually eat birds any more than do the Goliath bird-eaters. Instead, they dine on insects or the random small amphibian or reptile. Instead of making a web, it takes its prey by quick-strike ambush in the open.
The giant huntsman spider is so big it even took the trouble to have a size descriptor built into its name (given that Goliath was taken). The huntsman is neck and neck, or leg and leg, with the Goliath bird-eater for the title of biggest spider, by leg-span (in sheer body mass, though, the Goliath is more like an offensive lineman, while this spider is a lanky cornerback). A giant huntsman's legs can stretch out to 12 inches, and its speedy, crab-like gait makes it a fast hunter that excels at chasing down its meals. It hails from caves in Laos.