A new species of trapdoor spider was discovered in Auburn, Alabama. Researchers at Auburn University say they’ve discovered a previously unknown trapdoor spider species which are close relatives to tarantulas and funnel web spiders.
Study researcher Jason Bond of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, said in a statement, “The discovery of a new species in a well-developed area like this further demonstrates the amount of biodiversity on our planet that remains unknown. We know so little about our home planet and the other organisms that inhabit it with us.”
The new spider species has been named in honor of Auburn University’s tiger mascot, the spider is called the Auburn tiger trapdoor spider or Myrmekiaphila tigris. It belongs to the genus that includes among its now 12 species the famous M. neilyoungi, from Birmingham, Alabama named for rocker Neil Young, as reported by the Mother Nature Network.
This new spider species from Alabama construct an underground burrow made with silk and soil then build a hinged door to keep out intruders and also to catch prey. They sit and wait for predators by feeling the vibrations then leaps from the burrow, pulling its victim into its burrow to eat.
Norman Platnick of the American Museum of Natural History told LiveScience in 2008 when he described the Neil Young spider, “Just as orb-weaving spiders make webs out of silk, these more primitive spiders also use silk, but not for webs. They use it to line burrows, and an extension of the lining is part of the trap door.”
According to Phys.org, due to superficial similarities, Myrmekiaphila tigris was previously believed to be a different species, M. foliata, according to a taxonomic study of the group that was published a few years ago. However, closer examination revealed considerable differences in appearance, particularly in their genitalia, that were supported by additional studies comparing the DNA of M. tigris with that of related species.
“Despite the physical uniqueness of these specimens, the use of DNA as an alternate, less subjective line of evidence for recognizing the species was warranted, given our excitement with discovering a new species literally in our own backyards,” stated study researcher Jason Bond.