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Researcher Discovers 33 New Species of Trapdoor Spiders

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Dec 21, 2012 12:06 PM EST
Trapdoor spider
Trapdoor spider (Photo : Wikimedia Commons/ LA Dawson )

A researcher has discovered 33 new species of trapdoor spiders, from southwestern United States, that belong to the genus Aptostichus.

Trapdoor spiders get their name from their ability to dig burrows covered with cork-like trapdoors using soil, sand, silk or any kind of vegetation. The size of these spiders can range between 0.5 to 1.1 inches in their body length. While these spiders are commonly known as trapdoor spiders, not all species cover their burrows using doors.

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Until now seven species of trapdoor spiders including the popular names of Aptostichus stephencolberti (named after satirist Stephen Colbert) and Aptostichus angelinajolieae (named after actress Angelina Jolie), were listed under the genus Aptostichus. With the discovery of 33 new species, the total number has gone up to 40.

Researcher Jason Bond, a trapdoor spider expert from the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, reported the findings which are published in the journal Zookeys.

Expressing happiness over a large find of new species in the southwest, particularly in California, Bond heaped praises on the state for its rich plant and animal diversity. Species belonging to the Aptostichus genus are found in a wide range of habitats including coastal sand dunes, desert and oak woodland forests in California.

"This particular group of trapdoor spiders is among some of the most beautiful with which I have worked; species often have gorgeous tiger-striping on their abdomens. Aptostichus to my mind represents a true adaptive radiation - a classical situation in evolutionary biology where diversification, or speciation, has occurred such that a large number of species occupy a wide range of different habitats," Bond said in a statement.

The new species of spiders have also been given notable and fancy names. For example, one of the species is named Aptostichus anzaborrego, after Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, as the species is native to this park alone.

Another species from the Mojave Desert is given the name Aptostichus sarlacc. Sarlacc is a fictional creature in George Lucas Star Wars.

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