short-legged arachnid made its published debut late last month
in the peer-reviewed scientific journal ZooKeys, where San Diego
State University biologists who made the discovery first
Like the daddy longlegs, which is commonly but mistakenly
referred to as a spider, the Cryptomaster behemoth actually
belongs to an order of arachnids called Opiliones, or
harvestmen. Their single, fused body region most distinguishes
them from true spiders, which have two main body parts.
The newly identified species was found to inhabit forested
mountains and coastal areas of southwestern Oregon, in habitat
near its closest relative, another short-legged harvestmen
species with an equally outsized name - Cryptomaster leviathan.
Both species are rarely seen, often living under woody debris,
but at 4 millimeters wide they are much larger than most of the
other 4,000 species identified within their suborder, according
to the ZooKeys paper.
That additional girth prompted a research team led by biologist
James Starrett to dub their recent discovery a "new monster."
Starrett, who could not be reached on Wednesday, previously
discovered several new trapdoor spider species in California,
according to San Diego State University's website.
Photos of the Cryptomaster behemoth show an eight-legged,
amber-colored creature with striations on its back and
pincer-like extensions near its mouth.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)
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