Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A new sea spider: Cheilopallene ogasawarensis

Pycnogonids are strange looking creatures which live in the seas and oceans of the world and normally have 4 pairs of walking legs although some species may have 5 or even 6 pairs. The typical pycnogonid looks like a malnourished spider walking backwards, which is why they are called Sea Spiders. Their body is greatly reduced to a point were it seems to be little more than a place for the legs to be attached.

Sea spiders are found all over the world, from coastal tropical waters to the poles. They are also found at depths as great as 7,000 m, though they are far more common in shallower waters. They range in size from a few millimetres leg-span to giants with a leg-span of 75 cm. 

The new species described here (Cheilopallene ogasawarensis) is of the smaller kind, with a body length of about a mm. The species name refers to the location it was found, the Ogasawara Islands in Japan.

For the experts: A new species of pycnogonid recorded from the shallow waters of Ogasawara (Bonin) Island, Japan, Cheilopallene ogasawarensis n. sp. is described, illustrated and compared with similar species. Cheilopallene ogasawarensis is only the third pycnogonid species recorded from these islands. Morphological characters clearly distinguish the new species from its geographically closest congener C. nodulosa Hong and Kim, 1987, also recorded from Japanese waters.

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