A new spider species with “weird genitalia” was discovered inside a cave in southeastern China, according to a study led by researchers in the country.
The eight-eyed cave creature was spotted lurking under large rocks in Baiyan Cave, located in Guizhou Province. The discovery adds to the list of arachnids discovered in the country over the past decade, wherein scientists at that time say that hundreds more are waiting to be found.
Scientists involved in the new research took notice of the creature moving underneath a rock. A large opening from the cave also saw four small spiders beneath the pillars. It was during this time that the scientists realized they found a new spider species, called the Huishui dwarf spider (Floronia huishuiensis).
The researchers conducted the study back in 2020 when they ventured into the cave to survey local wildlife. In 2014, 30 new spider species were also discovered in China.
New Spider Species
(Photo : Photo by Ksenia Kudelkina on Unsplash)
In the study published in the journal ZooKeys on December 1, scientists from Gannan Normal University and Southwest University in China confirmed that the new spider species Huishui dwarf spider is the first species in the genus Floronia that was described from Baiyan Cave.
The research team even compared the F. huishuiensis as similar to another spider F. zhejiangensis. However, both species differ in the structure of their genital organs.
The team explains that Floronia consists of six species that are distributed in China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Europe (based on the World Spider Catalog 2023).
They are under the genus is Linyphiidae, the second largest family of relatively small spiders.
According to the study, this family consists of 4,832 species in 636 genera, which are distributed across the world. Among this figure, 517 species in 179 genera has been recorded from China.
Also Read: 30 New Spider Species Discovered in China
Spider Sampling Method
The scientists collected spider specimens which were handpicked and preserved in 95% ethanol. Following dissection, the epigyne was cleared using trypsin enzyme solution before examination and photography.
Epigyne, also called epigynum, is known as the external genital structure of female spiders. In short, it is the female genital opening in arachnids.
On the other hand, the research paper describes that male Huishui dwarf spiders have unique genitalia, known as pedipalps, which are shorter front appendages that serve as both sensory organs and reproductive organs.
Photos produced by the scientists reportedly show that pedipalps resemble the appearance of boxing gloves.
The study highlights the high probability that unknown spider species are waiting to be discovered not only in China but also in other parts of the world.
In November, researchers discovered two new spider species in Taiwan’s Hengchun Peninsula. Earlier this year, a new species described as a “rare giant spider” was discovered in Queensland, Australia. It was first spotted during the early 20th century. However, the said spider species remained undescribed and unnamed.
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