New Species of Cave Dwelling Armored Spiders Discovered in China

First Posted: Mar 17, 2014 06:24 AM EDT

A team of Chinese scientists have discovered five new species of armored spiders from the caves of Southeast China.

Armored spiders (Tetrablenmidae) are medium to small arachnid species that derive its name from the complex pattern of covering they have on their abdomen, which is very similar to body armor. These tropical and subtropical spiders are mainly found in soil and leaf litter but the new species were seen inhabiting caves. The cave species has no eyes.

Two of the new species belonging to the genus Tetrablemma have only 4 eyes that distinguish them easily from the rest.

Collected from a UNESCO World Heritage Site, South China Karst, a new genus and five new species belonging to the family of Tetrablemmidae were found lurking in dark caves. They were discovered by scientists at Chinese Academy of Sciences who were led by Professor Shuqiang LI.

The South China Karst is described by the UNESCO as "unrivalled in terms of the diversity of its karst features and landscapes."

During the expedition, the team investigated over 2000 caves in South China Karst. They team reported finding hundreds of cave dwelling spiders.

The species were acquired by manual collection and were preserved in 85 percent ethanol solutions. They were further examined under Olymous SZX7 stereomicroscope, as mentioned in the journal.

The specimens are housed at Sichuan University Museum, Chengdu and Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

This finding is an addition to the spider species of China. Over the last 10 years, the number soared from 2300 species to 4300 species.

The findings were documented in the journal Zookeys.

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