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A putative new species of spider found in the Peruvian Amazon uses forest
debris to weave sculptures that resemble a giant spider into its web.
By Dan Cossins |December 19, 2012
Some species of spider are known to weave elaborate patterns into their
webs, but a newly discovered spider in the Peruvian Amazon tops them all�by
sculpting what appears to be a giant mock spider from dead insects, leaves,
and other forest debris. Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa,
which includes spiders known to build web structures, the 5-mm-long spider
may use the decoy to confuse predators.
Biologist and science
educator Phil Torres
spotted the unusual behavior while leading visitors around a floodplain
near Peru�s Tambopata Research Center. He contacted arachnid expert Linda
Rayor of Cornell University in New York, who confirmed that the construction
of spider-shaped decoys has never previously been observed.
never seen a structure just like this,� William Eberhard, an entomologist at
the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Costa
Wired, though he noted that identifying the spider as new species based
on the decoy-building behavior alone is probably not possible.
plans to return to the same area in January with a permit to collect
specimens, which will help to verify whether or not the decoy builder is
indeed a new species.