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Scientist stumbles on spider stretching 33cm

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Scientist stumbles on spider stretching 33cm
Photo: Senckenberg
16:26 CEST+02:00
German scientists have found a spider with a leg-span of more than 30 centimetres, which they think may be a newly-discovered species.

The long-limbed Laos spider, which does not yet have a name, was found in Laos this April, said Dr Peter Jäger, an arachnologist at the Senckenberg biodiversity research centre in Frankfurt.

He said he had come across the giant harvestman while working on location with a research film crew - during breaks from shooting he would collect specimens from nearby limestone caves.

It was only when he was sorting through his haul that he noticed something unusual – it was the, yet to be named, giant-legged spider. Stretched out, it measured 33cms.

While it was not the largest type of harvestman to be discovered – the biggest on record measures 34cm and comes from South America – Jäger had trouble figuring out what kind of spider it was.

“While I was trying to sort the animal into a category and give it a scientific name, I came up with nothing,” he said in a statement. Jäger added that he initially concentrated on trying to find a match among the crab spider species, but now he was concentrating on giving a name to his mystery find.

At this stage, he and his team are considering the possibility that the creature belongs to the Gagrella genus of the Sclerosomatidae family. Not yet being able to name it properly was, Jäger said, a shame.

Regardless of whether the spider can be identified, the find adds to the general picture painted of harvestmen spiders. They can be found in almost every habitat and provide scientists with useful indicators of the condition of both natural and manmade environments.

Jäger said there was a limit to how long spiders legs tended to grow though – too long and the animal would have difficulty controlling them.

The Local/jcw

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