Six-legged creature lurked in ‘moist’ cave undetected. Then a researcher picked it up

A tiny new species of spider was just discovered living in a massive cave in China, researchers said.

The arachnid, which is a mere 3 millimeters long, belongs to a genus of East Asian spiders adapted to live exclusively underground, according to a study published on Aug. 21 in the Biodiversity Data Journal.

Researchers found the six-legged creature while conducting an expedition in a limestone cave in Sichuan, a southwestern province of China.

The spiders were observed crawling underneath stones in a “moist area” near the entrance of the cavern, known as Hanwang Dong Cave.

The “relatively small” spiders were found living under a stone in the cave, researchers said.
The “relatively small” spiders were found living under a stone in the cave, researchers said.

Researchers collected several of the yellowish arachnids by hand, including both males and females, and then they were transported to a museum in Guizhou for further analysis.

After they were preserved in an alcohol solution, the spider specimens were measured, photographed and dissected under a microscope.

Slight distinctions in their reproductive system helped researchers conclude that they indeed belonged to a novel species.

The species was named Speleoticus hei after Li He, a Chinese biologist who studies arachnids. Currently, the diminutive spiders are only known to reside in the Hanwang Dong Cave, meaning their population could be quite small.

The species is now the sixth member of the Speleoticus genus, which was only just discovered in 2016, according to a study published that year in the journal Zookeys.

The Speleoticus spiders are adapted to live in caves and often display physical traits such as little pigment, small eyes and elongated legs.

Worldwide, there are over 51,000 species of spiders currently identified, according to the World Spider Catalog.

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