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5 new species of armoured spiders found in Chinese caves

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Scientists have discovered five new species of armoured spiders lurking in the caves in Southeast China.

Armoured spiders are medium to small species that derive their name from the complex pattern of the plates covering their abdomen strongly resembling body armour.

The common name armoured spiders is given to the Tetrablemmidae family. These tropical and subtropical spiders are mainly collected from litter and soil, but like the newly described species some live in caves.

Some cave species, but also some soil inhabitants, show typical adaptations of cave spiders, such as loss of eyes. The genus Tetrablemma, for example, to which two of the new species belong, is distinguished by having only four eyes.

The new spiders were collected from the South China Karst, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The South China Karst spans the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences led by Professor Shuqiang Li have investigated more than 2,000 caves in the South China Karst, identifying several hundred new species of cave spiders.

As a result, the total known spider species of China has increased from 2,300 species to 4,300 species in the last 10 years.

The discovery was published in the journal ZooKeys.

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First Published: Sun, March 16 2014. 12:45 IST