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Newly discovered ghost spiders have scientists scrambling to study them

Published Dec 16th, 2023 4:10PM EST
spider web
Image: New Africa / Adobe

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Scientists recently uncovered the existence of six new species of “ghost spiders,” one of which was discovered at a Brazilian power plant. Ghost spiders, a subset of spider species that belong to the Otoniela genus, are often pale, and spend much of their days in silken retreats, only coming out to hunt at night.

The discovery of these new species of ghost spiders is especially interesting because they have been discovered in older, archived records. In fact, scientists say that the number of species within this genus has actually tripled, as scientists discovered six species of the eight-legged arachnids in records of spiders that have already been discovered in the past.

ghost spider
One of the newly discovered species of ghost spiders. Image source: ZOOTAXA

As I noted before, though, one of these newly discovered ghost spiders was found in a hydroelectric power plant in Brazil, and that has stirred up some interest from the scientific community. A new study from the researchers involved in the discovery notes that ghost spiders typically are found around water.

These spiders are also exceptionally fast, and their pale bodies make them harder to see than some other species of spiders. Overall, though, the new species is very nondescript, with its body, legs, and eyes all appearing as normal as any other spider. There’s ultimately nothing that particularly stands out about the spider’s appearance, aside from the female spider’s “ample” genitalia, which has piqued the interest of the scientists involved.

The discovery of this new species of ghost spider only adds to the growing tally of spiders that we’ve discovered around the world. Thus far, scientists have documented over 45,000 species of spiders, including massive, terrifying trapdoor spiders, and even spiders that catapult themselves away to avoid cannibalism.

You can learn more about these six newly documented species in the authors’ study, which is featured in the journal Zootaxa.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.