Look Closer: It Is Actually A Spider, Not A Leaf (Video)

First Posted: Nov 22, 2016 02:31 AM EST

A new and rare spider was found in the southwestern China's Yunnan rain forest and it looks like a leaf. This represented a new spider species, according to researchers.

The description of the new discovery was published in the Journal of Arachnology. It was led by Matjaz Kuntner, an arachnologist from the Smithsonian Institute and colleagues.

Kuntner found the newfound spider species in January 2011. The spider uses its silk to attach leaves to branches and camouflage among the branches. The team said it probably does masking to hide from the predators or sneak up on prey, according to National Geographic.

John Skelhorn, an entomologist who studies masquerading at the United Kingdom's the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, said that camouflage is about fooling senses. On the other hand, masquerading is about fooling the brain. Anthropoids and other animals usually do leaf masquerading. One example of this is the dead leaf butterflies in the Kallima genus. They look like dried leaves, too.

There are other animals mostly insects that have bodies that mimic plants. These include the Phasmatodea or also known as stick insects that look like bare branches or leaves. Orchid mantises have petal-shaped legs that look like flowers that can trick insects into flying close. With this, the mantises can take them easily.

Meanwhile, Kuntner, the principal investigator of the discovery, said this is the first known spider species to be leaf-shaped. Kuntner and the other researchers noticed that the female spider's back looked like a living, green leaf. Meanwhile, the underside of its body was brown imitating a dead leaf. There was also a hairy, stalk-like structure that protruded from its an abdomen.

The team found another one more leaf-shaped male spider after they searched for two weeks. Then, they looked more specimens in the museum. They discovered one similar specimen from the museum collection, which a female spider found in Vietnam. This belongs to the Poltys genus, while the other two newfound spiders represented a new species. The team is still examining the mysterious new spiders as they display secretive habits and nighttime lifestyle, according to Live Science.

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