Newly described arachnids are itsy-bitsy spider-killing machines native to Madagascar
Despite their name, pelican spiders aren’t massive, fish-eating monstrosities. In fact, the shy spiders in the family Archaeidae are as long as a grain of rice and are a threat only to other spiders.
Discovering a new species of these tiny Madagascar spiders is tough, but Hannah Wood has done just that — 18 times over.
Wood, an arachnologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., analyzed the genes and anatomy of live and museum pelican spider specimens to find these new species. She describes them in a paper published online January 11 in ZooKeys.
Like other pelican spiders, the new species have an elongated “neck” and beaklike pincers, or chelicerae. The way they use those long chelicerae to strike from a distance, earned them another name: assassin spiders. Once impaled, the