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New spider family identified in Oregon - SFGate -
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"Cave hunting biologists from San Francisco, working with a team of speleologists in the wilds of southern Oregon, have discovered a new family of spiders never before known to science. The spindly, six-eyed members of the worldwide arachnid tribe appear to have evolved their fearsome elongated claws over hundreds of millions of years, but how they attack their prey and how and what they eat are still unknown, the scientists say. The newfound spider family is being named trogloraptor, meaning "cave robber," and the single species found near Grants Pass is named Trogloraptor marchingtoni for Neil Marchington, a Deschutes County deputy sheriff who is also an amateur biologist and local cave explorer who helped lead the team of scientists to caves where the spiders were found." -
"The adults are huge for any spider - about the size of a 50-cent piece - and they spin primitive webs with only a few strands, but hang beneath those webs from the cool, damp ceilings of the caves, Griswold said. Primitive relatives of other arachnid families may yet be discovered in the same regions, he noted, because many unique evolutionary descendants of other widespread groups live there, including coast redwoods, mountain beavers, coastal-tailed frogs, and some pseudoscorpions whose evolutionary ancestors date back 380 million years. To biologists of all disciplines, merely discovering a single new species of animal or plant can be a major accomplishment. And discovering a new genus - a group that may include many new species - is a triumph. But discovering an entire new family that might include genus after genus and species after species is rare indeed. "This is something completely new," said Griswold of the team's cave discovery. "It's a historic event." -
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