Scientists have uncovered two miniature spiders living on mountains in China’s southern region, one of which is among the smallest spiders recorded worldwide, according to a new paper in ZooKeys. Both spiders belong to the Mysmenidae family, which is made up of mini-spiders with eight eyes.
“Although the family Mysmenidae is distributed worldwide, it is one of the least-studied family-level groups among orb-weaving spiders, and its diversity is grossly undersampled due to their small size (0.7–3 mm) and cryptic life style,” the scientists write. Currently found on every continent but Antarctica, it’s likely many more Mysmenidae remain undiscovered.
Measuring just over a millimeter, Trogloneta yuensis was discovered on Jinyun Mountain in Chongqing. It is covered in dark, irregular spots, almost leopard-like. Meanwhile, the other new species, Mysmena wawuensis is considerably smaller at only 0.75 millimeter, making it among the tiniest arachnids. Mysmena wawuensis was named after the mountain it inhabits: Wawu Mountain, which is also home to a small population of giant pandas. Both spiders are believed to wholly confined to the mountains where they were discovered.
Spiders in the Mysmenidae family, which currently number around 120, are usually found in humid habitats hiding out in leaf litters or moss. A few have been discovered in caves.
CITATION: Lin Y, Li S (2013) Two new species of the genera Mysmena and Trogloneta (Mysmenidae, Araneae) from Southwestern China. ZooKeys 303: 33–51. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.303.4808.
This article was written for Mongabay.com and re-posted on Focusing on Wildlife.