Giant Spider Species Discovered in Middle Eastern Sand Dunes
Scientists have unearthed a completely new species of spider hiding in sand dunes on the Israel-Jordan border. With a legspan that stretches 5.5 inches, the spider, called Cerbalus aravensis, is the biggest of its type in the Middle East. “It is rare to find a new species of spider — at least around this part of the world — which is so big,” said biologist Uri Shanas of the University of Haifa-Oranim in Israel, who discovered the arachnid.
Most of Cerbalus aravensis’s habits remain a mystery, but the researchers say it is nocturnal and most active during the blazing summer heat. The spider lives in an underground den, hidden by a door that swings upwards to welcome unsuspecting prey like lizards and insects. To make the camouflage door, the spider patches together bits of sand.
The researchers believe the spider uses a “sit-and-wait” hunting strategy, biding its time till prey approach, Shanas said.
Unfortunately, the spider’s habitat is under immediate threat, he said. The Israeli government recently approved mining operations in the region, which could wipe out the creature.