Friday 5 February 2016

Folsom Prison tarantula named after Johnny Cash

A new tarantula has been named after Johnny Cash, the singer, because of its proximity to Folsom and its black appearance

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

11:00PM GMT 04 Feb 2016

Inmates at Folsom Prison may be singing the blues a little louder when they hear what is crawling outside the penitentiary walls.

A new tarantula has been found, and the creature has been named after Johnny Cash, the singer, because of its proximity to Folsom and its striking black appearance.

Aphonopelma johnnycashi is one of 14 new species discovered in the southwestern United States by biologists at Auburn University and Millsaps College following a 10 year hunt.

"Tarantulas are just teddy bears with eight legs" said Dr Chris Hamilton, Auburn University

Cash wrote the hit Folsom Prison Blues after watching the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison while serving in Germany in the US Air Force. He later recorded a live version at the jail which reached number one in the US country charts in 1968.

“We often hear about how new species are being discovered from remote corners of the Earth, but what is remarkable is that these spiders are in our own backyard,” said Dr Chris Hamilton, lead author of the study.

“With the Earth in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, it is astonishing how little we know about our planet’s biodiversity, even for charismatic groups such as tarantulas.”

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