A new species of spider has been discovered by civilian scientists in Oregon. The Trogloraptor (latin for cave robber) has scythelike claws at the end of each leg, is a distant cousin of the goblin spider, and lives in caves, forests, and nightmares.
The Scientific American reports that the clawed spider resembles a brown recluse, but at about four centimeters it’s nearly twice as large. The spider was discovered by amateur scientists in western Oregon. When they couldn’t identify the spider they sent it to the California Academy of Sciences.
But entomologist and other researchers at the California Academy of Sciences couldn’t find a connection to the new species. Charles Griswold, the academy’s curator of arachnology, says that the spider represents a completely new lineage of spiders. The Trogloraptor’s closest relative is the goblin family of spiders, but Griswold believes that the clawed spider broke off on its own evolutionary branch nearly 130 million years ago. The Associated Press reports that it’s the first new spider family discovered in North America since 1870.
The Scientific American reports that the “cave robber” has barbs on the underside of its claws and probably uses them to catch prey. Researchers point to the Spelungula of New Zealand, another clawed (but unrelated) spider that drops from the ceiling to capture its prey with its legs.
Researchers believe that the Trogloraptor uses a similar method to capture its prey but are still not show exactly how, or what, it eats. (I’m guessing dreams, small children, and anything that makes the mistake of falling asleep.)
Griswold notes that the spider has only been found in Oregon but he believes that they may live in caves (and under beds) around the country.
“They could be living in caves in Nevada. They may have been hiding there since the Pliocene or Miocene.”
What do you think of the Trogloraptor?