Hooked: The Spider-Man Who Caught The Cave Robber…
Move over Andrew Russell Garfield and Tobias Vincent Maguire (especially you Toby; you can move well over. In fact, all the way over. Off the planet over even, thanks…), there’s a new Spider-Man in town - one amateur cave biologist known as Mr. Neil Marchington. And while he himself may not possess extraordinary web-from-the-wrist slinging abilities, he does, however, seem to have pretty keen spidey senses when it comes to spotting creepy crawlies down the Southern Oregon caves of the Siskiyou Mountains.
If you yourself have not been underground for the last few days, then you’ll probably have read about the new recently described family/genus of spider that happened to be found in just such an Oregon cave. One of only three new spider families described since 1990 and the first new species of spider to be discovered in America for 140 years, Trogloraptoidae has but one genus, Trogloraptor, and but one known species, Trogloraptor marchingtoni. Yup, in recognition of his contributions to the field, Marchington only don’ gone got a species named after him. In fact, this is the second spidery-species to receive Marchington’s name; the other being a species of harvestman, Taracus marchingtoni (which although not a true spider, still scores pretty frickin’ high on the ol’ arachnophobimeter.)
Dubbed the “cave robber” spider, Trogloraptor are noted for their unique and distinctive flexible, toothed, hook-like claws found on the end of their legs. Add to these an outstretched length of 3 inches and some pretty big piriform pedipalps (mandible and/or antennae-like appendages; found on the males) and you’ve got yourself one fierce predator. Spinning webs of only a few strands, these cave robbers hang suspended on these from the roofs of their cavernous homes; legs outstretched and waiting to grab passing prey with their claws. Nice. Let me know when you stop shuddering at the thought of running into a couple of those down a damp dark cave!
So there you have it - one awesome new spider species and one awesome new spider-man. No doubt we’ll be seeing more Marchingtoni sp. creeping their way into the literature further down the line.
- Still find yourself toasting your marshmallows in the “Garfield/Maguire for best Spider-Man” camps? Well, as a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy, Marchington also fights crime. So nyeh…
- Read some local news perspective of the story, from the Bend Bulletin here