New family of spiders found
in Oregon cave
This 2010 photo from a cave outside Grants Pass, Ore., shows a specimen of a new family of spiders, which scientists are calling Cave Robber (Trogloraptor marchingtoni ) for its fearsome claws. Amateur cave explorers sent specimens to the California Academy of Sciences, where scientists decided it was so evolutiionarily different that they had to create a whole new family to put it in. The discovery is described in an article published Friday, in the online edition of the journal Zookeys. (AP/Brent McGregor)
Amateur cave explorers have found a new family of spiders in southern Oregon that scientists have dubbed Trogloraptor, or cave robber, for its fearsome front claws.
The spelunkers sent specimens to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Entomologists there say the spider — the size of a half dollar — evolved so distinctly that it requires its own taxonomic family — the first new spider family from North America since 1870.
The species name, marchingtoni, honors Douglas County sheriff's Deputy Dave Marchington, who led scientists to the cave outside Grants Pass.
Academy entomologist Charles Griswold says the spider spins a crude web, but scientists don't know yet what or how it eats.
The discovery is described in the online edition of the journal ZooKeys.
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.