New Species: Meet the Trogloraptor that Hides in Caves
Explorers plumbing the depths of a cave system in Oregon have uncovered a new family of spiders, according to a report from the Washington Post.
The team was exploring the caves of the Siskiyou Mountains when they came across the spiders, and sent samples to the California Academy of Sciences. Specialists there confirmed that the spiders are so unique that they had to create a new family in which to classify them. Called Trogloraptor, from the Latin for “cave robber,” the spiders are the first new family of North American arachnids named since the 1870’s.
“We used anatomy. We used DNA to understand its evolutionary place. Then we consulted other experts all over the world about what this was. They all concurred with our opinion that this was something completely new to science,” said Charles Griswold, curator of arachnids at the California Academy.
Norman Platnick of the American Museum of Natural History described the significance of the find, saying, “Because it belongs to one of the more primitive groups of true spiders, it has the potential to change many of our current ideas about the early evolution of spiders.”
“But it is better than a fossil, because we can study the entire organism, along with its behavior and physiology, not just those aspects that happen to have been fossilized.”
Armed with a pair of formidable claws, the spiders appear to snatch food from the dark cave environment around them.