The discovery of 18 new species of pelican spiders in Madagascar has amazed scientists.
In a groundbreaking new discovery, scientists have identified 18 new species on the African island of Madigascar. These new species of pelican spiders provide more insight into a bizarre group of spider hunting spiders.
They are called pelican spiders because of their unusual shape, which includes an extremely long neck and jaws that can reach out and stab their victims while staying out of harms way. The unusual body makes them look like pelicans.
“In 1854, a curious-looking spider was found preserved in 50 million-year-old amber,” reads the statement from the Smithsonian. “With an elongated neck-like structure and long mouthparts that protruded from the “head” like an angled beak, the arachnid bore a striking resemblance to a tiny pelican. A few decades later when living pelican spiders were discovered in Madagascar, arachnologists learned that their behavior is as unusual as their appearance, but because these spiders live in remote parts of the world they remained largely unstudied–until recently.
“At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, curator of arachnids and myriapods Hannah Wood has examined and analyzed hundreds of pelican spiders both in the field in Madagascar and through study of pelican spiders preserved in museum collections,” the statement continues. “Her analysis, focused on spiders of the Eriauchenius and Madagascarchaea genera, sorted the spiders she studied into 26 different species–18 of which have never before been described. Wood and colleague Nikolaj Scharff of the University of Copenhagen describe all 26 pelican spider species in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Zookeys.”