January 14, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

Photo courtesy of Yael Olek.
A new and previously unknown species of spider has been discovered in the Sands of Samar dune in Israel’s southern Arava region.

A new and previously unknown species of spider has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar in Israel’s southern Arava region by a team of scientists from the Department of Biology at the University of Haifa-Oranim. Unfortunately, the spider’s habitat is endangered.

With a leg-span of up to 5.5 inches, the new spider species, a member of the Cerbalus genus, is the largest of its type in the Middle East. It has been named Cerbalus aravensis.

Scientists already know that this is a nocturnal spider, mostly active in the hottest months of the year, and that it constructs an underground den that is closed with a “lifting door” made of sand particles that are glued together to camouflage its location.

The scientists are concerned about plans to renew mining projects in the area where the spider was discovered.

“The new discovery shows how much we still have to investigate and that there are likely to be many more species that are unknown to us. If we do not preserve the few habitats that remain for these species, they will become extinct before we can even discover them,” warns Dr. Uri Shanas of the University of Haifa, who heads the research team.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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