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Spiders with 'love bites' puzzle scientists

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Spiders with 'love bites' puzzle scientists
Photo: Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung / Kunz
16:07 CEST+02:00
A German researcher has discovered a new species of spider – apparently recognisable by its rather rough foreplay techniques.

The new breed of huntsman spider was identified by Dr Peter Jäger of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, the Institute said in a statement on Tuesday.

Jäger discovered the new breed after noticing that the female spider had bite marks on the front of her body.

"It's quite possible that these injuries occurred during mating," Jäger said.

However, as researchers have not yet been able to watch the species mating, this is only speculation.

The male spider didn't have any bite marks – and if the injuries do occur during the courtship or mating rituals, Jäger isn't certain why the female seems to come off worse.

The new species of spider originates in the deserts of South Africa.

Mainly nocturnal, they live in tunnels under the sand and have a legspan of between eight and ten centimetres.

Equipped with bristles on their feet, they're well adapted to crossing the sandy plains.

After identifying the species, Jäger turned to collections back at the Frankfurt Institute - as well as in Namibia - to confirm his discovery.

"The creature was collected back in 2004 by a then-postgraduate student of mine," Jäger said in a press release.

But now, Jäger has been able to scientifically identify and formally name the species.

At the Institute, genetic and molecular tests proved that the spider was indeed a new species - which Jäger named: "May bruno."

Jäger also identified several different varieties within the new species, he reported in scientific journal "African Invertebrates."

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