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Tiny ‘pear-shaped’ critter with craving for ants found in rainforest. See new species

Near the southern edge of China is a sprawling rainforest rich with diverse wildlife.

Researchers exploring in the forest, known as the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, recently found some peculiar and tiny creatures among the leaves covering the forest’s floor — and discovered three new species of spiders, according to a study published Aug. 18 in ZooKeys.

The spiders are all Zodariidae, which is a species-rich family of small to medium-sized burrowing spiders known to live in leaf litter and soil and under rocks and logs, researchers said. Two of the new species are Mallinella, a genus that has previously been discovered in China. The third species is a member of the Euryeidon genus, which has previously only been known in Thailand.

Here’s what to know about the new ant-eating creatures.

Two pear-shaped species of Mallinella

Researchers identified two new species of Mallinella in the rainforest: Mallinella banna and Mallinella mengla. Both species were named after the location where they were discovered.

Mallinella are an abundant genus of Zodariidae, and they are known to have the highest diversity among species, researchers said. They are characterized by a single row of short spines found in front of their spinnerets, which are used to make silk.

Before the discovery of the two new species, only 25 Mallinella had been reported in China, experts said. The creatures are known from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Mallinella banna is a pear-shaped spider, and scientists said the specimen they collected measured about 0.25 inches. The creature has a rough dark brown exterior and a reddish-brown sternum, and its legs are yellow except for its femurs, which are brown.

Mallinella banna
Mallinella banna

The back of the spider’s abdomen is dark brown with mottled pale spots, according to the study. Its front side is pale and has two dark stripes.

Mallinella mengla is also pear-shaped, and the specimen collected was about 0.22 inches long, scientists said.

Mallinella mengla
Mallinella mengla

Similar to the other species, Mallinella mengla has a rough, dark brown exterior, according to experts. Its sternum is brown and it has yellow legs with some brown femurs. The creature has an egg-shaped abdomen with protruding spines.

A genus new to China: Euryeidon dian

The discovery of Euryeidon dian marks the first time a species of Euryeidon spiders has been discovered in China, researchers said.

The creatures were named after Yunnan, the province in China where they were discovered, according to the study. Researchers collected both male and female specimens belonging to the species.

Euryeidon dian
Euryeidon dian

Male Euryeidon dian are about 0.17 inches and have a long, flat oval shape, the study said. They are light brown and have dark pits, known as fovea, on their backs.

Their mouths, known as chelicerae, are brown, and their eight legs are a yellowish-brown, scientists said.

Scientists said the female spider they collected measured about 0.21 inches. It had the same coloring as the male Euryeidon dian, but the front of its abdomen and its spinnerets are more pale.

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