Shuqiang started his scientific career as a spider taxonomist, with his first paper on the Linyphiidae of China published in 1987, followed by a series of revisions of known Chinese and Asia spider species. To date, he has documented more than 2,000 new species.
He is also a proficient professor in the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and has mentored more than 30 PhD students from China, Vietnam, and Italy, and another three M.Sc. students from Kenya and Malaysia. Most of his former Chinese PhD students have since become full professors. Shuqiang has been the Secretary of the Asian Society of Arachnology since 2012 and President of the Arachnology Society of China since 2018.
Many people see spiders as ugly due to their multiple legs, hairy bodies, and sometimes venomous fangs, but this appearance serves a purpose in their survival and adaptation to their environment. “Spiders are lovely animals”, Shuqiang said to us. He focuses mostly on fine spider structures. For example, he used spider copulatory organs (male palp and female epigyne) to study species taxonomy. “Interspecies mating is not easy due to difference in copulatory organs,” he says. He and his team members are also focusing on the origin of spider organs.
Tom Hardy and his Marvel character Venom have given their names to a newly discovered Australian spider. The genus Venomius and its only current species Venomius tomhardyi were described following an expedition to Tasmania.
Tom Hardy portrays Eddie Brock and his alter-ego Venom, an antihero closely associated with Spider-Man, across two Marvel films and gives his name to the sole species of the new genus. The distinctive black spots on the arachnid’s abdomen reminded the scientists of Venom’s head, inspiring them to select the unusual name.
The genus belongs to the Araneidae family of spiders, or Araneae, that build upright circular webs to capture prey. Despite resembling the related genus Phonognatha as both do not have tubercles on the abdomen, the newly described spiders are distinct in their behaviour of creating silk-lined holes in the branches of trees for shelter, as well as their different genitalia.
The holotype of the new species was discovered and subsequently preserved at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery following an expedition to Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Researchers also sourced supplementary specimens from scientific arachnology collections, with researchers examining approximately 12,000 records in Australian and overseas institutions.
“It is really important to keep describing new spiders to assess the total biodiversity of these predators in Australia,” added the study’s first author MSc Giullia Rossi.
Rossi GF, Castanheira PS, Baptista RLC, Framenau VW (2023) Venomius, a new monotypic genus of Australian orb-weaving spiders (Araneae, Araneidae). Evolutionary Systematics 7(2): 285-292. https://doi.org/10.3897/evolsyst.7.110022
In the latest issue (1174th) of the scientific open-access journal ZooKeys, you can find our paper describing a new species of tarantula (family Theraphosidae) found in northwestern Iran.
This species belongs to Chaetopelma, a relatively small genus, distributed in Crete, Sudan, and the Middle East, and one of the only two tarantula genera inhabiting the Mediterranean region.
Our discovery is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it marks the first record of this genus in Iran and the third known species of tarantulas in this country. Additionally, it extends the known range of Chaetopelma spiders by almost 350 km eastwards.
We named this species Chaetopelma persianum, paying homage to its occurrence in Iran, which has historically been known as Persia. As a potential common name, we suggest “Persian Gold Tarantula”, where we are also making a reference to the “woolly, golden hairs’’ on its carapace.
For the purpose of our study, we only had one specimen: a female with a leg span of almost 9 cm, available. Yet, its distinct characteristics allowed us to confidently differentiate it from other known Chaetopelma species.
This tarantula is an obligate burrower and inhabits high elevations in well-vegetated mountainous regions of the northern Zagros Mountains. The holotype specimen was collected from a self-made ground burrow on sloped rocky ground, amidst sparse low vegetation and grasses.
It all started with local nature enthusiast Mehdi Gavahyan, who photographed a wandering male and sent me the photo. When I figured it was most likely an undescribed species, I asked him to team up with Amir Hossein Aghaei, a nature enthusiast and a friend of mine, and send me specimens of these spiders for further examination. Unfortunately, they only managed to collect that one female. However, it turned out to be enough for us to describe the Persian Gold Tarantula!
Additionally, thanks to local citizen scientists and naturalists, we later also got hold of photos of another two males of the same genus, taken very close to the type locality of the new species: one in Sardasht in West Azerbaijan Province of Iran, and the other in the surroundings of Sulaymaniyah in Iraq. While it is highly probable that both these males belong to Ch. persianum, this cannot be confirmed until further examination of collected material from both sexes is conducted.
Burrow of Persian Gold Tarantulas in West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. The arrow in the photo on the right indicates the location of the burrow. Photos by Amir Hossein Aghaei.
During our research, we also noted that one species of Chaetopelma described from Cameroon is misclassified and should be transferred to another genus. However, this transfer is pending until the type material undergoes examination.
Looking ahead, we believe that more comprehensive investigations employing integrative methods would greatly benefit the taxonomy of Chaetopelma.
For example, Ch. olivaceum, a species with seven junior synonyms and one of the broadest ranges within the entire family, covering an area of approximately 1,493,978 km2, might potentially have cryptic species within its range. Moreover, the disjunct distribution of Ch. olivaceum in Turkey, where it occurs both in the southern regions and as far north as Istanbul, raises the possibility of distinct species status for the latter population, which is geographically isolated from the rest of the recorded occurrences. Integrative studies incorporating molecular data could offer insights into this.
Additionally, further collection efforts in lesser-sampled or completely unexplored regions, such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, eastern Turkey and western Iran, could lead to the discovery of additional Chaetopelma species or records. These findings would be instrumental in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the taxonomy and distribution of this genus.
Australia’s rich and diverse fauna never fails to surprise us, as a new spider species has been documented from the continent.
The novel species, a blind daddy long-legs, was found in boreholes in the arid Pilbara of Western Australia. It is the first cave-adapted daddy long-legs spider reported from the continent, with other blind species of its genus so far only found in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
“It represents a subfamily that was previously thought to be restricted to the tropical north and east of the continent,” says Bernhard Huber, one of the authors of a recent study published in the journal Subterranean Biology.
“The new species suggests that these spiders were widely distributed in Australia before the continent’s aridification in the last tens of millions of years,” he adds.
Together with it, another extraordinary daddy long-legs species was described as new-to-science from Réunion island. It was collected in the Grotte de La Tortue, a 300,000-year-old lava tube. Its closest known relatives are in eastern Africa, which begs the question how the species reached the island.
The researchers believe its ground-dwelling ancestor arrived to Réunion “relatively recently and by highly accidental means (such as rafts or storms)” but adapted quickly to subterranean life.
“If our generic assignment is correct, then the ancestor of Buitinga ifrit must have reached Réunion from East Africa within the last few million years,” they write in their paper.
Curiously, both spiders were named after mythical underground dwellers: Belisana coblynau,after “the mythical gnome-like creatures that are said to haunt mines and quarries,” and Buitinga ifrit, after “a demon in Islamic mythology that is often associated with the underworld.”
The Colombian Pacific region, nestled within the heart of the Chocó Biogeographic Region, has unveiled some of its remarkable biological wonders. Recognized as one of the world’s most enigmatic biodiversity hotspots, this area has remained largely unexplored, particularly when it comes to spider diversity. A groundbreaking biological expedition, conducted at the Jardín Botánico del Pacífico (JBP) in Bahía Solano, has revealed some taxonomic novelties that are set to redefine our understanding of this captivating ecosystem. The area not only serves as a tourist attraction but also plays a pivotal role in the conservation of the tropical rainforests and mangroves in the region.
Led by a team of dedicated researchers, the study focused on Mygalomorphae spiders, aiming to shed light on their intricate world. This enigmatic spider group includes tarantulas, trapdoor spiders, funnel-web spiders, millimeter-sized spiders with little use of the silk, and bald-legged spiders with the ability to attach substrate to their bodies. They are predatory, mostly terrestrial, and very often have restricted geographic distributions and high levels of endemism.
In this first-of-its-kind exploration of the Colombian Pacific rainforest, the team discovered and documented four remarkable spider species. One of them is Ummidia solana, an exceptional trapdoor spider. Additionally, the researchers identified three species of tarantulas: Euthycaelus cunampia, Neischnocolus mecana, and Melloina pacifica.
“These taxonomic breakthroughs represent the first recorded instances of their respective genera in the region, expanding their geographical distribution. Each species was meticulously illustrated, described, and scientifically discussed, offering valuable insights into their morphological characteristics, taxonomy, and biogeography. The results of this study serve as a significant contribution to our understanding of the region’s biological diversity, known for its exceptional species richness and endemism,” say the researchers.
Let us delve deeper into the newfound species. Ummidia solana, derived from the municipality of Bahía Solano, captures the essence of the stunning Colombian Pacific coast, with its mesmerizing landscapes and abundant vegetation. This discovery also marks the first record of the Ummidia genus within the Chocó Biogeographic Region.
Melloina pacifica, named after the Colombian Pacific region it inhabits, represents the first described species of the Melloina genus in Colombia. While Melloina is known to thrive in diverse ecosystems, including caves, this specific record expands the genus’ known distribution, previously documented solely in Venezuela and Panama.
Euthycaelus cunampia pays tribute to Don José and Don Antonio, members of the Emberá indigenous community from Mecaná, Chocó. Their transition from hunting traditions to becoming touristic and academic guides for the JBP inspired the species name. Notably, this discovery marks the first published record of the Euthycaelus genus and the subfamily Schismatothelinae outside the Andean Region and Eastern Cordillera for Colombia.
Lastly, Neischnocolus mecana, named after a township in Bahía Solano, underscores the commitment of the Jardín Botánico del Pacífico community to conserve the region’s rich biodiversity. This is the fourth described species of the Neischnocolus genus in Colombia and represents its first record in the Chocó biogeographic region and the Colombian Pacific. Notably, this description expands the known geographic range of the genus.
“This groundbreaking study serves as a testament to the potential existence of undiscovered species and the need for comprehensive taxonomic research,” the scientists say in conclusion.
Echeverri M, Gómez Torres S, Pinel N, Perafán C (2023) Four new species of mygalomorph spiders (Araneae, Halonoproctidae and Theraphosidae) from the Colombian Pacific region (Bahía Solano, Chocó). ZooKeys 1166: 49–90. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.1166.101069
Spiders of the family Araneidae are known for building vertical orbicular webs to catch upon prey. They can be easily identified by their eye pattern, the abdomen normally overlapping the carapace, and complex genitalia. The family currently has 188 genera and 3,119 species worldwide.
Two scientists from Murdoch University in Perth (Australia), Dr Pedro Castanheira and Dr Volker Framenau, described a new spider genus of Araneids following a comprehensive study of orb-weaving spiders found in Australian zoological collections. They named it after one of their favourites bands, the Swedish pop group ABBA, paying tribute to the band members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
The band’s “songs and subsequent musicals Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia – Here We Go again! (2018), provided hours of entertainment for the authors,” they explain in their study, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.
The new genus is composed of a relatively small single species (ca. 3-4 mm), Abba transversa (Rainbow, 1912), whose specimens are currently known from the coastal area of New South Wales and Queensland. It is differentiated from other species within the family by the presence of two dark spots in the middle of abdomen and by the thick macrosetae on the first pair of legs of the males.
The description comes after 15 years of scientific work, with the researchers looking at 12,000 records in Australian museums and overseas collections.
“Describing new taxa is vital for conservation management plans to assess biodiversity and protect forests areas across Australia,” says study author Dr Pedro Castanheira. “Currently, 80% of Australian spider species are unknown, and many of the described ones are misplaced in different genera, like Abba transversa used to be.”
Castanheira PS, Framenau VW (2023) Abba, a new monotypic genus of orb-weaving spiders (Araneae, Araneidae) from Australia. Evolutionary Systematics 7(1): 73-81. https://doi.org/10.3897/evolsyst.7.98015
A new genus of tarantula was discovered inside a bamboo culm from Mae Tho, Tak province, in Thailand. This is the first genus of tarantula that shows the surprising specialization of living in bamboo stalks. The bamboo culm tarantula Taksinus bambus was found in Thailand by JoCho Sippawat, a wildlife YouTuber from Thailand, who collaborated with arachnologists Dr. Narin Chomphuphuang and Mr. Chaowalit Songsangchote. The new genus and species are described in the journal ZooKeys.
Bamboo is important to some animals as it can serve as a source of nutrition, shelter, and habitat. Inside a bamboo culm, we discovered a new genus of tarantula, which was collected from Mae Tho, Mueang Tak district, Tak province, in Thailand.
The discovered genus has not been previously studied by scientists; this is the first case of a genus of tarantula that shows the surprising specialization of living in bamboo stalks.
We named the new tarantula genus Taksinus in honor of the Thai king Taksin the Great. The name was chosen in recognition of Taksin the Great’s old name, Phraya Tak – governor of Tak province, which is where the new genus was discovered. After the Second Fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, Taksin the Great was the only king of the Thonburi Kingdom to become a key leader of Siam, prior to the establishment of Thailand.
The bamboo culm tarantula Taksinus bambus was found in Thailand by JoCho Sippawat, a nationally known wildlife YouTuber in Thailand with 2.45 million subscribers, who collaborated with Dr. Narin Chomphuphuang and Mr. Chaowalit Songsangchote, the arachnologists who studied and described the new genus.
In general, tarantulas from Southeast Asia can be either terrestrial or arboreal. Arboreal tarantulas spend time on different types of trees, but until now, researchers had not previously identified a tarantula found only on a specific tree type.
“These animals are truly remarkable; they are the first known tarantulas ever with a bamboo-based ecology,” Narin said.
The tarantulas were discovered inside mature culms of Asian bamboo stalks (Gigantochloa sp.), with nest entrances ranging in size from 2–3 cm to a large fissure, within a silk-lined tubular burrow, either in the branch stub or in the middle of the bamboo culms. All the tarantulas found living in the culms had built silken retreat tubes that covered the stem cavity.
The tarantulas cannot bore into bamboo stems; therefore, they depend on the assistance of other animals. Bamboo is preyed upon by a variety of animals, including the bamboo borer beetle, bamboo worm, bamboo-nesting carpenter bee, and small mammals such as rodents. Furthermore, bamboo cracking is primarily caused by rapid changes in moisture content induced by the atmosphere, uneven drying, or drenching followed by rapid drying or by human activities.
Taksinus is classified as a new genus within the Ornithoctoninae subfamily of Southeast Asian tarantulas. The discovery comes 104 years after Chamberlin defined the previous genus in this subfamily, Melognathus, in 1917.
What makes Taksinus distinct from all other Asian arboreal genera is the relatively short embolus of the male pedipalps, which is used to transport sperm to the female seminal receptacles during mating. In addition to morphology, its habitat type and distribution are also different from those of related species. While Asian arboreal tarantulas have been reported in Indonesia (Sangihe Island and Sulawesi), Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, and Borneo, Taksinus was discovered in northern Thailand, which is a new geographical location for those spiders.
“We examined all of the trees in the area where the species was discovered. This species is unique because it is associated with bamboo, and we have never observed this tarantula species in any other plant. Bamboo is important to this tarantula, not only in terms of lifestyle but also because it can only be found in high hill forests in the northern part of Thailand, at an elevation of about 1,000 m. It is not an exaggeration to say that they are now Thailand’s rarest tarantulas,” says Narin.
Few people realize how much of Thailand’s wildlife remains undocumented. Thai forests now cover only 31.64% of the country’s total land area. We are primarily on a mission to research and save the biodiversity and wildlife within these forests from extinction, especially species-specific microhabitats.
Songsangchote C, Sippawat Z, Khaikaew W, Chomphuphuang N (2022) A new genus of bamboo culm tarantula from Thailand (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae). ZooKeys 1080: 1-19. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.1080.76876
While 2021 may have been a stressful and, frankly, strange year, in the world of biodiversity there has been plenty to celebrate! Out of the many new species we published in our journals this year, we’ve curated a selection of the 10 most spectacular discoveries. The world hides amazing creatures just waiting to be found – and we’re making this happen, one new species at a time.
Read Part 1 of the Top 10 new species of 2021 here.
5. The Instagram model
Many students and young researchers are encouraged to explore biodiversity by starting from their own backyard. Yes, but how often do they find undescribed snake species in there?
“It is quite interesting to see how an image on Instagram led to the discovery of such a pretty snake that, until very recently, remained hidden to the world,” Zeeshan A. Mirza told us earlier this month.
“What’s even more interesting is that the exploration of your own backyard may yield still undocumented species. Lately, people have been eager to travel to remote biodiversity hotspots to find new or rare species, but if one looks in their own backyard, they may end up finding a new species right there.”
Do freshwater snails make good tennis players? Well, one of them certainly has the name for it.
Enter Travunijana djokovici, a new species of aquatic snail named after famous Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.
Found in a karstic spring near Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, T. Djokovici is part of the family of mud snails, which inhabit fresh or brackish water, including caves and subterranean habitats.
The tiny snail was discovered by Slovak biospeleologist Jozef Grego and Montenegrin zoologist Vladimir Pešić of the University of Montenegro, who claim they named it after the renowned tennis player “to acknowledge his inspiring enthusiasm and energy.”.
To discover some of the world’s rarest animals that inhabit the unique underground habitats of the Dinaric karst, to reach inaccessible cave and spring habitats and for the restless work during processing of the collected material, you need Novak’s energy and enthusiasm,” they add.
Amazingly, Novak Djokovic found out that he’s now a namesake to a tiny snail, and he even had a comment.
“I am honoured that a new species of snail was named after me because I am a big fan of nature and ecosystems and I appreciate all kinds of animals and plants,” he says in an Eurosport article. “I don’t know how symbolic this is, because throughout my career I always tried to be fast and then a snail was named after me,” he joked. “Maybe it’s a message for me, telling me to slow down a bit!”
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected all of us, and the scientific world is no exception. Fieldwork got postponed, museums remained closed, arranging meet-ups and travel became almost impossible.
P. coronavirus was collected near a stream in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo by a team of scientists led by Professor Halil Ibrahimi of the University of Prishtina. After molecular and morphological analyses, it was described as a caddisfly species new to science. Its namewill be an eternal memory of an extremely difficult period.
In a broader sense, the researchers also wish to bring attention to “another silent pandemic occurring on freshwater organisms in Kosovo’s rivers,” caused by the pollution and degradation of freshwater habitats, as well as the activity increasing in recent years of mismanaged hydropower plants. Particularly, the river basin of the Lumbardhi i Deçanit River, where the new species was discovered, has turned into a ‘battlefield’ for scientists and civil society on one side and the management of the hydropower plant operating on this river on the other.
P. coronavirus is part of the small insect order of Trichoptera, which is very sensitive to water pollution and habitat deterioration. The authors of the species argue that it is a small-scale endemic taxon, very sensitive to the ongoing activities in Lumbardhi i Deçanit river, and failure to understand this may drive it, along with many other species, towards extinction.
If you think spiders can’t be cute, you’ve probably never seen a peacock spider. They have big forward-facing eyes, and their males perform fun courtship dances.
Citizen scientist Sheryl Holliday was the first to spot this vibrant spider while walking in Mount Gambier, Australia, and she posted her find on Facebook.It was later described as a new species by arachnologist Joseph Schubert of Museums Victoria.
Coloured bright orange, it was called Maratus Nemo, after the popular Disney character.
‘It has a really vibrant orange face with white stripes on it, which kind of looks like a clown fish, so I thought Nemo would be a really suitable name for it,’ Joseph Schubert says.
Maratus Nemo is probably the first influencer arachnid – his curious story, bright colours and fun name practically made him an internet star overnight.
1. The tiny ant that challenges gender stereotypes
Found in Ecuador’s evergreen tropical forests, this miniature trap jaw ant bears the curious Latin name Strumigenys ayersthey. Unlike most species named in honour of people, whose names end with -ae (after females) and –i (after males), S. ayersthey might be the only species in the world to have a scientific name with the suffix –they.
“In contrast to the traditional naming practices that identify individuals as one of two distinct genders, we have chosen a non-Latinized portmanteau honoring the artist Jeremy Ayers and representing people that do not identify with conventional binary gender assignments, Strumigenys ayersthey,” authors Philipp Hoenle of the Technical University of Darmstadt and Douglas Booher of Yale University state in their paper.
“Strumigenys ayersthey sp. nov. is thus inclusively named in honor of Jeremy Ayers for the multitude of humans among the spectrum of gender who have been unrepresented under traditional naming practices.”
Curiously, it was no other than lead singer and lyricist of the American alternative rock band R.E.M. Michael Stipe that joined Booher in writing the etymology section for the research article, where they explain the origin of the species name and honor their mutual friend, activist and artist Jeremy Ayers.
This ant can be distinguished by its predominantly smooth and shining cuticle surface and long trap-jaw mandibles, which make it unique among nearly a thousand species of its genus.
“Such a beautiful and rare animal was just the species to celebrate both biological and human diversity,” Douglas Booher said.
For the first time in Slovakia, the dwarf spider Walckenaeria stylifrons and crab spider Spiracme mongolica were discovered on sand dunes in Záhorie Protected Landscape Area, on localities that serve as a military complex, used by the native Slovak army. Moreover, the spider W. stylifrons was found in a wine-growing region near the historical town of Modra.
European continental sand dunes, characterized by high ground temperature, high temperature fluctuations and movement of sand masses, belong to the rare, climatically extreme areas resembling deserts. In Europe, lowland sandy grassland habitats are considered to be among the most endangered and are often the subject of nature conservation.
The researchers decided to understand the spider assemblages living in such extreme habitats in Western Slovakia. During 2018–2019, the study sites were chosen and co-called pitfall traps hidden in the ground were used to collect spiders.
Among other collected species, two spiders were found for the first time in Slovakia. The dwarf spider W. stilifrons is recorded from 15 European countries and it is known from Eastern England to Eastern Germany in the north, and from the Iberian Peninsula to the Crimea and Cyprus in the south. Within Central Europe, the species has so far been known from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The crab spider S. mongolica is known from Serbia to the European part of Russia. Its distribution in Asia extends from Central Asian part of Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan to Mongolia and China. In China it is known only from Western Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang region.
Upon the detailed examination of male copulatory organs, the researchers found out that one of the species shares characters typical for the genus Spiracme, in consideration of that a new combinationSpiracme mongolica for the spider previously known as Xysticus mongolicus was suggested.
In conclusion, the authors assume that W. stilifrons can live elsewhere in Europe. The rarity of the species may be related to the occurrence of adults, especially in the winter months, as most researchers are focused only on the growing seasons. The occurrence of S. mongolica in sand dunes in Slovakia confirms this species preference for dry habitats. The new finding of S. mongolica is the most known westernmost.
Research article: Purgat P, Gajdoš P, Purkart A, Hurajtová N, Volnár Ľ, Krajčovičová K (2021) Walckenaeria stilifrons and Spiracme mongolica (Araneae, Linyphiidae, Thomisidae), two new species to Slovakia. Check List 17 (6): 1601-1608. doi: 10.15560/17.6.1601
As someone who enjoys taking regular long walks, listening to podcasts has always been an irreplaceable source of pleasure for me. As an arachnologist and taxonomist, I had been hoping for years that someone would start a podcast dedicated to taxonomy and the discovery of new species. Thankfully, earlier this year Dr. L. Brian Patrick from Dakota Wesleyan University started such a project with the New Species Podcast, and the results are much, much better than what I’d been hoping for. I was particularly delighted when I got invited to the show to talk about a paper in which, together with my colleague Dr. Yuri M. Marusik, we described 17 new species of zodariid spiders from Iran and Turkmenistan.
I first met Brian in person at the 19th International Congress of Arachnology in Taiwan in 2013, where we had a fruitful discussion about various collecting methods for spiders and other arthropods. I personally believe that it is of utmost importance that efforts like Brian’s to popularize taxonomy – especially in these trying times – should be publicly acknowledged. And what better way to acknowledge someone’s efforts in popularizing the discovery of new species than to actually dedicate a new species name to them? For this reason, together with my colleague Dr. Marusik we decided to name one of our newly discovered species of Iranian spiders after Brian, in recognition of his wonderful job on the production of the podcast.
I am deeply moved and flattered that anyone would name a species after me. I think they must have run out of ideas for specific epithets if they’re naming a species after me!
I am glad that the podcast has inspired at least a few people, and I am trying to help more people understand that dozens to hundreds of new species are described almost every day of the year. I want people to understand the process of biodiversity discovery and the lab and field work associated with that process. Most importantly, I hope that people recognize that we are losing species before we can even find them.
L. Brian Patrick
The new species is named Mesiotelus patricki and is a member of the family Liocranidae. Commonly known as spiny-legged sac spiders, this family is relatively poorly studied globally, with less than 300 currently recognized species; most liocranids are free-living ground-dwelling spiders that can be found within the forest litter and under rocks and stones, usually in well-vegetated habitats.
In the same paper, we also described a new genus and another nine new species of spiders from Iran. Among these, Brigittea avicenna was named after the preeminent Persian polymath Avicenna, while Zagrotes borna and Zagrotes parla were named using Persian given names, meaning “young” and “glowing”, respectively.
It is noteworthy that all of the specimens used in this study had been collected in the 70s by Austrian and Swiss zoologists, and had been sitting on museum shelves for decades, waiting to be “discovered” and formally described. This clearly demonstrates the importance of natural history museums and the value of their scientific collections, as major institutes around the world house hundreds of thousands of undescribed species that are just out there, waiting to be named. We hope that efforts like Brian’s podcast would bring more attention to taxonomy and discovery of new species, as more and more people and investments are indeed needed in this field to unveil the magnificent biodiversity of our planet.