Monster Hunter in real life: eyeless spider named after video game monstrosity

Discovered in China, the cave-dwelling arachnid was assigned a rather unflattering species name.

Deep within a cave in the Du’an Yao Autonomous County of Guangxi, China, researchers discovered a pale, eyeless spider unknown to science.

This discovery, detailed in the open-access Biodiversity Data Journal adds a remarkable member to the Otacilia genus. And, as is often the case, the scientist behind the revelation turned to popular culture to name the new species.

They settled on Otacilia khezu.

A close-up shot of the face Khezu from Monster Hunter at night. It is a wwyvern with no eyes and many teeth.
Khezu in Monster Hunter.

The Khezu wyvern features in the popular video game series Monster Hunter. It is known for its blindness and unsettling appearance, just like newly discovered species. By naming the spider Otacilia khezu, the researchers highlight its troglobitic – or cave-dwelling – nature, particularly the complete absence of its eyes.

“Its long, elastic neck stretching out while it clings to a wall or the ceiling is a sight straight out of a nightmare. Make sure you do not get overwhelmed by its horrific appearance.”

Khezu description, Monster Hunter Wiki.

Otacilia khezu, like many troglobitic creatures, lacks eyes and pigmentation, has elongated appendages, and has developed heightened sensory adaptations to navigate and thrive in its dark environment.

A pale eyeless spider on a cave floor.
Otacilia khezu juvenile, in life. Photo: Shanmi Zheng.

The research team led by Yejie Li,  Langfang Normal University, note the significance of the discovery, as it marks the first recorded troglobitic Otacilia species in China. Prior to this, only two troglobitic Otacilia species had been identified, both in Laos. 

The species is one of many spiders named after influential fictional characters. In fact, one spider was named after a character and the actor playing him.

The documentation and publication of this new species set the stage for further studies on the ecological roles of troglobitic spiders and their evolutionary adaptations.

Chinese civillians can rest assured that Otacilia khezu is considerably less dangerous than its namesake when they keep an eye out for the eyeless arachnid.

Original source:

Lin Y, Chen H, Wang X, Li S (2024) Otacilia khezu sp. nov., a new troglobitic spider (Araneae, Phrurolithidae) from Guangxi, China. Biodiversity Data Journal 12: e126716.

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