A “medium-sized” critter scurried through the grass, navigating big rocks and small stones as it made its way up a grassy slope in China. That’s when the eight-legged animal was collected by researchers.
Scientists were exploring Menyuan County in August 2019. That’s when they found the small arachnid and determined it was just what they were looking for: a new species of “mesh-web spider,” according to a study published Nov. 29 in the journal ZooKeys.
The new species is known as Tricholathys chenzhenningi, researchers said. It’s named in honor of Zhenning Chen, a professor at Qinghai Normal University in Xining.
Tricholathys are a type of “medium-sized” spider, according to scientists. The arachnids are typically a “brown to dark brown” and have “elongate” chelicerae — which are their first pair of appendages typically used as pincers or claws. They have an “oval” and “yellow-brown to dark brown” abdomen.
Researchers collected seven males and five females of the new species, marking the first time Tricholathys have been discovered in China.
Photos show the brown creatures among dirt and other detritus on the ground.
Female specimens had distinct sex organs, the study said. Their spermathecae — which are sac-like organ used to store sperm — are “spherical” while their fertilization ducts are “thin and hook-shaped.”
The creatures have four eyes ranging in size, scientists said.
Although researchers described the creatures as “medium-sized,” they only measure about 0.1 inches in length, according to the study. Their legs range in size, but some are almost as long as their bodies, measuring about 0.1 inches.
Scientists said Tricholathys “prefer to live in high-elevation habitats near rivers or at the snow line.” The genus is made of 18 species which are found in the Nearctic, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, western and northern China, and parts of Russia.
The spiders build their “small mesh-webs” beneath stones, researchers said.