Spider Discovered in Mexico Uses Encrusted Soil Particles for Camouflage

Posted on June 23, 2014

Male Paratropis tuxtlensis specimen

A newly discovered spider species in Mexico uses encrusted soil particles for camouflage. The spider, Paratropis tuxtlensis, keeps its entire body encrusted with soil particles. A male Paratropis tuxtlensis is pictured above and an adult female protecting her egg sac is pictured below.

Female Paratropis tuxtlensis specimen with egg sac

The spider has glandular pores that excrete a sticky secretion to help stick the soil particles to its body. The researchers say the spiders are "very cryptic" and do not move frequently which makes them difficult to detect.

The new species was discovered by Dr. Alejandro Valdez-Mondragon, M. Sc. Jorge I. Mendoza and Dr. Oscar F. Francke from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. The researchers say the spiders do not make burrows. Instead they hide under rocks and in the soil using their soil camouflage.

The authors also say, "The specimens were collected in tropical rain-forest, under boulders on the ground. They remained motionless when they were exposed by removing the rock that provided shelter, possibly as a defense mechanism because the soil particles encrusted on the body cuticle serves as camouflage with the moist ground."

A research paper on the newly discovered spiders can be found here in ZooKeys.

Photos: Jorge I. Mendoza