Wild Fact #16 – The Newly Discovered Spider – Mysmena wawuensis

Mysmena wawuensis

 

The newly discovered spider, Mysmena wawuensis, is so incredibly new that these tiny spiders don’t even have a common name yet. Just how new are they? Well, the journal describing this spider species (and another that was found with them) was published May 21, 2013. Yeah, that is about 3 weeks ago. I told you they were newly discovered.

Cool Facts About The Mysmena wawuensis

  • This particular spider and it’s friend, Trogloneta yuensis, were discovered in the Sichuan and Chongqing regions of China.
  • These wonderful spiders tend to live in the leaf litter and/or in caves. Interestingly enough, they were actually discovered near the Giant Panda sanctuary – I guess everyone was so distracted with the Pandas that they never thought to look down
  • The scientific name, Mysmena wawuensis, was named after the Wawu Mountains National Forest Park – the place they call home

What Took So Long To Discover The Mysmena wawuensis?

Mysmena wawuensisSo how in the world did researchers miss this spider for so long? I mean, sure they were probably admiring the cute Panda Bears doing their thing but you have to get bored of watching them at some point, right. Actually, you probably wouldn’t but still, how could it take this long?

What if I told you that the Mysmena wawuensis has an average length of 0.75 mm (0.02″) and normally hangs out in the crevices of caves. This would definitely add to the difficulty of finding these incredibly tiny creatures. As a side note, isn’t it nice knowing that these new spiders are so small? It is way better than learning that researchers just discovered a 4 foot spider (for the record, a 4 foot spider does not exist…at least not that I know of).

How Do You Find a Miniature Spider?

My next question is how did they even discover this crazy small spider? Well, according to an arachnologist at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands, Jeremy Miller,  “the best way to find these tiny spiders is to look for their webs”. He goes on to mention that you can dust the area with corn starch as the starch will stick to the tiny spider web filaments making it much easier to notice. How about that? We now have a tactic for identifying minature spider webs. Now don’t go spending all of your free time looking for miniature spiders such as the Mysmena wawuensis.

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