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A New Species of Spider with Unique Camouflage Found in Mexico

A new species of spider have been found in a tropical rainforest in Veracruz, Mexico by the group of entomologists led by Dr Alejandro Valdez-Mondragón. Named as Paratropis tuxtlensis, this new species was cataloged into the enigmatic family of Paratropididae.

Paratropis-tuxtlensis

Paratropis tuxtlensis, adult female protecting her egg sac. Image credit: Valdez-Mondragón A et al.

Like other members of this spider family, Paratropis tuxtlensis also have the special camouflaging abilities, since its entire body is fully covered with soil particles. Such encrusted soil on the exoskeleton of Paratropis tuxtlensis helps protect themselves from their predators or use as camouflage to deceive its prey. The reason why they have soil particles is that the spiders have glandular pores in the cuticle and thus their secretion is helpful in sticking the soil particles.

Paratropis tuxtlensis is very mysterious, because they seldom move when exposed, so it is quite difficult to find and collect them.

Paratropis-tuxtlensis2

Habitat of Paratropis tuxtlensis, arrow indicates the microhabitat where the specimens were collected. Image credit: Valdez-Mondragón A et al.

Paratropis tuxtlensis is just found in the region around the type locality in the Volcán San Martin Biosphere Reserve, Mexico.

Generally speaking, they do not burrow, instead they depend on their camouflage to hide in the soil or under rocks.

As Dr Valdez-Mondragón, the first author of a paper published in the open-access journal ZooKeys said, when the specimens were collected under boulders on the ground in tropical rain-forest, they kept motionless when exposed by removing the rock, which gave them a safe shelter, also acted as kind of defense mechanism, so that  the soil particles encrusted on the body cuticle would help them have special camouflage on the moist ground.

Journal reference: Valdez-Mondragón A et al. 2014. First record of the mygalomorph spider family Paratropididae (Arachnida, Araneae) in North America with the description of a new species of Paratropis Simon from Mexico, and with new ultramorphological data for the family. ZooKeys 416: 1–21; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.416.7253

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