According to the California Academy of Sciences nine new species of assassin spiders (such as the one pictured above) have been discovered in Madagascar:
These tiny arachnids in the Archaeidae family are only about 2 mm (less than 1/8 inch) long, but their bizarre fangs and spider-hunting practices have earned them a reputation as the worldâ€™s most grotesque spiders. They hunt by stabbing their prey with venom-filled fangs that are attached to the ends of extremely elongated jaws. These specialized jaws are about ten times longer than the jaws of most other spiders their size. To support these long jaws and prevent them from dragging along the ground, Assassin spiders have also evolved elongated necks.
Surprisingly, the DNA data also revealed that the presence of elongated necks among Archaeidae spiders had evolved at least two separate times. A classic example of convergent evolution, her findings suggest that the need to strike out at prey from a distance encouraged the evolution of extended body parts on more than one occasion.
Filed under: Spiders