New Softball-Sized Spider Discovered in Baja California Mine
Califorctenus cacahilensis, California, Entomology, Spider
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 â€“ a whopping spider the size of a baseball â€“ 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.