Thursday 18 February 2016

Scientists Find 8 New Species of Spider with Whiplike Legs

by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer   |   February 17, 2016 03:00pm ET

A pair of elongated, whiplike legs that are actually sophisticated environment sensors distinguish an unusual arachnid known as the whip spider, also called the tailless whip scorpion. Scientists recently described eight new species of this long-legged spider that are native to Brazil, nearly doubling the number of known species in the genus Charinus.

Whip spiders use only six of their eight legs for walking, reserving their "whips" — which can reach several times the spiders' body length — for exploring the world around them and locating prey, through a combination of touch and chemical signals.

Thanks to the new species discoveries, Brazil now boasts the greatest diversity of whip spiders in the world. But the forest ecosystems where these new species live are threatened by human development, and the researchers suggested that stronger conservation measures are urgently required in order to protect the whip spiders' habitats, and to discover more species before their habitats are destroyed. 

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