Chubby spiders creep in China

Mysmenia wawuensis is one of two new spider species found in China. Image: Lin & Li, Zookeys

Mysmenia wawuensis is one of two new spider species found in China. Image: Lin & Li, Zookeys

Tiny spiders with French fry legs and oversized rumps have been discovered in a national park in China.

Wawu Mountains National Forest Park in Sichuan, China, is the tranquil home to the rare giant panda. Little did we know that some much smaller creatures—each less than 1 mm long—call it their home too. The arachnids were found in May this year and represent two new species of Mysmenidae orb-weaving spiders.  They spend most of their time camouflaged in leaf litter or inside dark caves, making them near impossible to spot.

A view from the Wawu Mt. National Forest Park, the natural habitat of the newly discovered species. Image: Shuqiang Li

A view from the Wawu Mt. National Forest Park, the natural habitat of the newly discovered species. Image: Shuqiang Li

The scientists who found the tiny orb-weavers, however, had a trick up their sleeves. Instead of searching for the actual spiders, the team looked for their silk webs in cavities created by leaves and mosses on the forest floor. Yucheng Lin and Shuqiang Li published their findings in the journal Zookeys.

The family that the two new species belong to, Mysmenidae, is the least studied group of orb-weaving spiders because of their small size (between 0.7 and 3 mm) and elusive life style. They are found all over the world and a total of 123 species have been reported to date.

Source: [ZooKeys]

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