Scientists who have been conducting a research on hundreds of specimens of spiders from Madagascar have discovered 18 new ‘spider-killing spider’ species. This species is one of the most bizarre spiders on the planet that uses its salad tong-like jaws to snatch a prey. Reportedly, the odd-looking family of spiders resemble pelicans and also eat their own kind. Scientists have noted that the are many more of these strange-looking creatures than they had previously thought existed. A review of the new species of spiders has been published in the journal ZooKeys. The 18 new species of spiders have features that include long necks and beaks, similar to those of a pelican. Their monstrous-look could give nightmares to arachnophobes everywhere, as they also eat their own kind.
While this is common in the animal kingdom, eating one’s own kind sounds extremely bizarre and unbelievable to humans. A statement from the Smithsonian Institution states that Pelican spiders are active hunters, prowling the forest at night and following long silk draglines that lead them to their spider prey. Pelican spiders don’t make webs, unlike some other arachnids. Reportedly, when a pelican spider finds a victim, it swiftly reaches out and impales it on its long, fang-tipped ‘jaws’, then it holds the capture away from its body at arms length. This is in a bid to keep itself safe from potential counterattacks until the victim dies due to the injection of a deadly venom. They are also aptly called as ‘assassin spiders.’
Hundreds of pelican spider bodies were obtained by arachnologist Hannah Wood at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in a bid to get a better understanding of these little-known creatures. The study describes 26 pelican spider species from Madagascar, 18 of which are new. While some were discovered in the wild, others came from museum specimens. The paper states that these new species of spiders live in the Southern Hemisphere, specifically in Madagascar, Australia and South Africa. Their Northern Hemisphere lines have all gone extinct.
It is interesting to note that the wildlife in Madagascar is difficult to study not just because of the island’s remoteness, but also because many species here live nowhere else in the world. Precisely why Madagascar is considered a biodiversity hotspot. Over 90 percent of the wildlife exist only in that region, state news reports. In a press statement, Wood said that these spiders attest to the unique biology that diversified in Madagascar. ” “I think there’s going to be a lot more species that haven’t yet been described or documented,” she added. The discovery of these new species, the scientists are hoping to understand how these creatures diversified and the history of their evolution.