Indiana arachnologist Marc Milne discovered a new type of sheet weaver spiders in a cave in southern Indiana.
(Marc Milne/Subterranean Biology)
A small type of spider lived deep in a cave in Indiana — and scientists had no idea that it existed until recently.
Marc Milne, an arachnologist at the University of Indianapolis, discovered the new type of sheet weaver spiders in the damp and rocky stygian River Cave, with the supervision of one of his colleagues.
“In the morning when there is dew on the grass, and you can see the small horizontal webs which are sheet webs,” Milne told Gizmodo.
The spiders, which Milne with the name “Islandiana lewisi” after Julian Lewis, who he credited with the lead of the location, are only about two millimetres long. Their bodies are slightly translucent —”dark yellow to brown” — and they have black circles around the eyes. This particular type of spider is known for its flat, tightly woven, horizontal webs.
“This is the fifteenth species in the genus (Islandiana) and the fifth known to live exclusively in caves. It already has more than 30 years ago that the last species is added to this group,” Phys.org reports.
Milne described the cave in a new study published in “Subterranean Biology.”
“These samples were mostly found in the membranes between the large boulders in the largest hall of the cave,” Milne explained in the magazine, adding that the samples were collected in October 2016.
The discovery is important, Milne points out, because it proves that the unknown species could be home and everywhere.
“When people think of new spiders discovered, they think of the Amazon or the ice under Antarctica,” he told Gizmodo. “But, even in our backyard, there are a lot of new, undiscovered organisms that we don’t know much about. People think that we know everything about the organisms in the Midwest and the United States, because we scoured the country, but in reality, we are not yet. A lot of groups are really not enough studied. Spiders are just one of them.”
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