Five new species of armored spiders have been discovered in China.
The species, which have complex plate patterns blanketing their abdomens, were found in caves in the South China Karst (a UNESCO World Heritage site), which spans the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan.
The findings, published in the journal ZooKeys, describes how the cave-dwelling arachnids have four eyes rather than eight. Researchers credited the loss of eyes as a “typical adaption” of cave spiders.
Armored spiders belong to the Tetrablemmidae family, a group of spiders that live throughout the world’s tropical regions. Most specimens have been discovered in litter and soil, while some have been found in caves.
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The latest group of armored spider species was found by a group of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences led by Shuqiang Li. A zoology professor there, Li has been responsible for other spider finds, discoveries that have increased the number of known spider species in China from 2,300 to 4,300 over the past decade.
Last May, Li and his team discovered two spider species that are less than 2 millimeters in length. One measures 0.75 millimeters, making it one of the smallest spiders known.
"The spiders live in moist leaf litter and the obscure places such as moss and even caves and they prefer very humid habitats," the researchers said in a statement at the time. "Being extremely minute, up to 2 millimeters in total and having cryptic lifestyle these creatures become rather hard to find."