For the first time since the 1870s, a new family of spiders named Trogloraptor marchingtoni has been discovered in the United States. Amateur cave explores found the spider in a cave in southern Oregon. Afterwards, the spider was studied by scientists of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco who, with the help of scientists around the world, concluded that the spider represent a family never seen before.
“It took us a long time to figure out what it wasn’t,” said Charles Griswold, curator of arachnids at the academy, when interviewed by Wasington Post. “Even longer to figure out what it is. We used anatomy. We used DNA to understand its evolutionary place. Then we consulted other experts all over the world about what this was. They all concurred with our opinion that this was something completely new to science.”
According to the Telegraph, scientists think that the spider has evolved separately inside the caves and so has been given its own family within the Arachnid class of animals – naming it Trogloraptor (Latin for cave robber) due to its large claws.
Griswold, CE, Audisio, T, & Ledford, JM (2012). An extraordinary new family of spiders from caves in the Pacific Northwest. ZooKeys DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.215.3547