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New spider family discovered… and it has sickle claws!

August 22nd, 2012 by Marc 1 Comment

Spiders. Nasty little beggers. Creepy and nasty. But maybe that’s just us…

Scientists in a cave in Southwest Oregon have discovered this vicious little apex predator with massive sickle claws.

Yes, this spider was so unique that he is the first member of a new taxonomic family. The first new spider family to be found in North America in 130 years.

“This is something completely new,” lead author of a paper on the species, Charles Griswold with the California Academy of Sciences, told SFGate. “It’s a historic event.”

The discoverers, who published their description paper in the open-access journal Zoo Keys have named the new species Trogloraptor, or “cave robber,” and they have dubbed a new spider family—Trogloraptoridae—to accommodate what they believe is a primitive spider. The full species name is Trogloraptor marchingtoni after one of its discoverers.

Spanning four centimeters with extended limbs, the spider spins sparse webs on cave ceilings. It is closely related to goblin spiders, but is more primitive.

Scientists know nothing about the species to date – it’s behaviour and what it eats remain a mystery with the spiders dying in the scientists’ captivity as everything they have been offered to eat has been refused so far.

While the spider was discovered in caves near Grants Pass, Oregon, more have since been discovered in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California.

Photo by: Griswold CE, Audisio T, Ledford JM.

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….