Category Archive 'Califorctenus cacahilensis'

10 Apr 2017

New Softball-Sized Spider Discovered in Baja California Mine

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Researchers at the San Diego Natural History museum recently discovered a new species and genus of spider in the hills of Baja California, called Califorctenus cacahilensis.

While traipsing through the a mine in the hills of Baja California, Michael Wall and Jim Berrian struck gold. Skittering across the abandoned mine shaft was a beast that would send most people running.

The entomologists instead ran toward the creature – a whopping spider the size of a baseball – and captured it for analysis. With juicy fangs, a hairy yellow abdomen and legs for miles, the arachnid was certainly a looker, but neither of the scientists could classify it.

Back in their lab at the San Diego Natural History Museum, the researchers had a eureka moment. Upon corroborating with Mexican entomologist and southern spider expert Maria Jimenez, the scientists confirmed that they had discovered a new species and genus. They named it Califorctenus cacahilensis, after the Sierra Cacahilas mountain ranges where it was first found.

“Discovering a species in entomology and arachnology is not terribly unusual,” said Berrian, who published the findings in Zootaxa last month. “There might be another 2-2.5 million species of undiscovered insects and spiders.”

Finding such a large spider in a place once roamed by humans, however, is a scientific triumph of sorts.

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