Scientists searched through archive collections for preserved animals from South America. They were looking for “ghost”-like creatures — and they found several.
The researchers were studying Otoniela spiders, also known as ghost spiders, according to a study published Dec. 8 in the journal Zootaxa. For years, there were only two known species of ghost spiders.
Ghost spiders earned their name because they are “very fast” and “difficult to see” in the wild, the study’s lead author Luiz Fernando Oliveira told McClatchy News via email.
In the archives, researchers found 20 similar-looking ghost spiders, the study said. Taking a closer look at the animals, the scientists realized they’d discovered a new species: Otoniela lupercioi, or Lupercioi’s ghost spider.
Lupercioi’s ghost spiders can reach about a quarter of an inch in length, the study said. They have eight legs, eight eyes and a brown body. Photos show the male and female spider.
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Female Lupercioi’s ghost spiders have an “ample” epigynum, or external genitalia, and a “large” spermathecae, an internal reproductive organ used to store sperm, the study said. Researchers identified the new species by its genitalia.
Several Lupercioi’s ghost spiders were found at a hydroelectric power plant in Brazil, researchers said. A YouTube video from Renato Piai Vicalvi shows this power plant. Other spiders were found in Argentina and Paraguay.
Oliveira said that ghost spiders are typically found near water, but much about their natural habitats remains unknown.
Researchers said they named the new species in memory of Oliveira’s father, Lupercio de Oliveira.
The research team included Luiz Fernando Oliveira, José Geraldo De Alvarenga and Antonio Brescovit. Researchers also discovered five more new species of ghost spider.
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