Quick: what has eight legs and a face like a pair of hairy salad tongs? If you’re a spider, you know exactly what I’m describing—a beast, which, at least to smaller spiders, is an otherworldly, eldritch terror: the pelican spider. Now, new research published today in the journal ZooKeys details the discovery of a whopping 18 new species of pelican spider from Madagascar.
If Marvel’s Spider-Man always seemed a little too far-fetched, you’re going to have an even harder time wrapping your head around the Darwin’s Bark spider. It’s no bigger than a thumbnail, but it can shoot a web at distances of over 80 feet, allowing it to cross rivers and spin massive traps.
A new fossil found in France is almost a spider, but not quite.
The arachnid, locked in iron carbonate for 305 million years, reveals the stepwise evolution of arachnids into spiders. Dubbed Idmonarachne brasieri after the Greek mythological figure Idmon, father of Arachne, a weaver turned into a spider by a jealous goddess, the “almost spider” lacks only the spinnerets that spiders use to turn silk into webs.
Spiders that travel on the wind are also adept sailors when they land on water, researchers have discovered.
Morito Hayashi, a spider researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, says that it had been assumed that a wet landing would be deadly for what are known as ballooning spiders—those that drift to new habitats on wind-blown silken threads that they spin to lift themselves aloft.