Friday, November 20, 2015

A new harvestman: Iandumoema smeagol

Opiliones is an order of arachnids commonly known as harvestmen or daddy longlegs. About 6 500 species of harvestmen have been described so far but estimates put the total number of species to more than 10 000.

Named after Tolkien's character from the "Lord of the Rings" series, a new eyeless harvestman species was found to crawl in a humid cave in southeastern Brazil. Never getting out of its subterranean home, the new daddy longlegs species is the most highly modified representative among its close relatives. In case you are not familiar with Tolkiens work, Smeagol, is the original name of Gollum who spend a long time of his life in the caves located below the Misty Mountains of Middle-earth of the Lord of the Rings book.

For the experts: A new species of troglobitic harvestman, Iandumoema smeagol sp. n., is described from Toca do Geraldo, Monjolos municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Iandumoema smeagol sp. n. is distinguished from the other two species of the genus by four exclusive characteristics – dorsal scutum areas with conspicuous tubercles, enlarged retrolateral spiniform tubercle on the distal third of femur IV, eyes absent and the penial ventral process slender and of approximately the same length of the stylus. The species is the most highly modified in the genus and its distribution is restricted only to caves in that particular area of Minas Gerais state. The type locality is not inside a legally protected area, and there are anthropogenic impacts in its surroundings. Therefore, Iandumoema smeagol sp. n. is vulnerable and it must be considered in future conservation projects.

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