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Science Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 at 3:35 pm

Sanctuary for Giant Pandas Also Home to Newly Discovered Tiny Spiders

These tiny spiders prove that no matter how small a spider is, they're really freaky looking up close.

Spiders

One of the great things about setting aside land as a sanctuary for one creature is that it helps to preserve a whole ecosystem full of plants and animals — some of which we may not even know exist yet. Take for example the two new species of spider — both among the world’s tiniest — that were just discovered on the grounds of a panda sanctuary in southwest China. One of these little guys averages less than a millimeter across. You could eat, like, 50 of them in your sleep and never even know it!

The two species, belonging to the genera Mysmena and Trogloneta, are described for the first time in the latest issue of the journal Zookeys. They belong to existing family of very tiny spiders that are ill-understood because of how difficult it is to find and study them, and not just because they are, as we’ve noted, very tiny.

They’re also hard to hunt because they live in out of the way or hidden places, like caves, or just inaccessible environments, like the leaf litter where examples of both of these new species were found. Finding specimens is like looking for a needle in a haystack, if the needle was amazingly tiny and also just smart enough to try and get away from you. Also, if the needles had a weird body shape with a disproportionately large rear end, and were spiders.

Researchers think there are plenty of other species in the family Mysmenidae out there that haven’t been discovered or described by science yet. So good news, everyone — there are lots of tiny spiders all over the place, and we don’t know where they are or what they look like.

Sleep tight!

(via Zookeys)

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