Monday, June 25, 2018

New goblin spiders

Xestaspis kandy (credit: Suresh P. Benjamin)
The goblins Bom, Snooky and Tumpy and the brownies Chippy, Snippy and Tiggy are fictional characters invented the English children's writer Enid Blyton, famous for her The Famous Five series and many more children books. I admit I read very many of those as a kid.

Some colleagues have now used the character names describe six new species of minute goblin spiders discovered in the diminishing forests of Sri Lanka. The spider family Oonopidae ,commonly known as goblin spiders, consists of over 1,600 described species. Most of them are tiny, measuring only about 1 to 3 millimeters. As a result they are seldom seen by people as they are too small to be easily noticed. They are generally found in leaf litter and under rocks, but they also make up a significant component of the spider fauna living in the canopy of tropical rainforests.

For the experts: Nine new species of goblin spiders are described in six different genera: Cavisternum bom n. sp., Grymeus dharmapriyai n. sp., Ischnothyreus chippy n. sp., Opopaea spinosiscorona n. sp., Pelicinus snooky n. sp., P. tumpy n. sp., Silhouettella saaristoi n. sp., S. snippy n. sp. and S. tiggy n. sp. Three genera are recorded for the first time in Sri Lanka: Cavisternum, Grymeus and Silhouettella. The first two genera are reported for the first time outside of Australia. Sri Lankan goblin spider diversity now comprises 45 described species in 13 different genera.

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