Blecccchhh – New Spider Species Discovered – and It’s Big

I should like spiders, as a self-respecting biologist, I should. But, there are so many legs and crunchy body parts… *shudder* But we tend to have an understanding, you and I.  You pretend there aren’t hundreds to thousands  or so of you per sq meter (this better be pertaining to the good ole outdoors!), and I will pretend I have never heard that fact carelessly tossed around often and somehow involved with the question some smart-ass kid always needs to ask: “How many spiders do we swallow in  our sleep?

So, now that I’ve managed to scare away the faint of heart, time to mention a new species of spider recently discovered in the Middle East. According to the Wired.com article:

“Scientists have unearthed a completely new species of spider hiding in sand dunes on the Israel-Jordan border.

With a legspan that stretches 5.5 inches, the spider, called Cerbalus aravensis, is the biggest of its type in the Middle East. “It is rare to find a new species of spider — at least around this part of the world — which is so big,” said biologist Uri Shanas of the University of Haifa-Oranim in Israel, who discovered the arachnid.

Most of Cerbalus aravensis’s habits remain a mystery, but the researchers say it is nocturnal and most active during the blazing summer heat. The spider lives in an underground den, hidden by a door that swings upwards to welcome unsuspecting prey like lizards and insects. To make the camouflage door, the spider patches together bits of sand.

The researchers believe the spider uses a “sit-and-wait” hunting strategy, biding its time till prey approach, Shanas said.

Unfortunately, the spider’s habitat is under immediate threat, he said. The Israeli government recently approved mining operations in the region, which could wipe out the creature.”

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