Tiny, dainty spiders no bigger than a Tic-Tac probably won’t send your blood pressure rising. But the 4-inch-long, red-fanged Sierra Cacachilas wandering spider (Califorctenus cacachilensis), recently named by researchers at the San Diego Natural History Museum and Mexico's Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, is another story.
The species was first located in 2013 in a mountain range in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Researchers, including field entomologist Jim Berrian, came across evidence of an “abnormally big” shed exoskeleton in a cave. The eye pattern led them to believe it was potentially part of a group of wandering spiders from the Ctenidae family.
Knowing Ctenidae are nocturnal, the researchers returned to the cave at night, where they spotted a living specimen. The team confirmed it was a previously unidentified species, with the findings published in Zootaxa in March.
The cave-dwelling wandering spider is related to the Brazilian wandering spider, known to be highly venomous. Although researchers haven’t fully examined the consequences of a bite from the Sierra Cacachilas, informal research indicates it probably won’t kill you. “I got bit while handling a live specimen of Califorctenus cacachilensis, and I’m still alive,” Berrian said.
All images courtesy of San Diego Natural History Museum.