Huge New Spider Species Discovered in Mexican Cave

2017/4/16 21:48:09

Califorctenus cacachilensis is the width of a softball and represents a new genus of arachnids


Photo: Califorctenus cacachilensis (San Diego Natural History Museum)


By Jason Daley for SMITHSONIAN.COM, April 11, 2017


Researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum along with other experts recently unveiled a new spider species found in Mexico that is roughly the size of a softball, reports Deborah Sullivan Brennan at the Los Angeles Times.


According to a blog post from the museum, in 2013 field entomologist Jim Berrian and a team of researchers found the spider while exploring the Sierra Cacachilas, a small mountain range in Baja California Sur in Mexico. Investigating a cave in the area, they noticed a giant exoskeleton hanging from the ceiling. Instead of running back to their hotel and hiding under the covers, they decided to return that night, since they identified the spider as belonging to a genus of arachnids that are often nocturnal. That night, in the darkened cave, the team got their first look at what is now known as Califorctenus cacachilensis, or the Sierra Cacachilas wandering spider. The official description of the new spider appears in the journal Zootaxa.


“When I saw these spiders for the first time, I was very impressed by their size,” Baja spider expert Maria Luisa Jimenez, a researcher at Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, says in the blog post. “In all my experience over the years collecting spiders on the peninsula, I had never seen a spider this large. I suspected that something new was waiting to be described.”


The researchers searched the area, finding about two dozen specimens in a cave, an abandoned mine shaft and the remnants of a pit toilet. They collected eight samples for further study, Brennan reports.


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