If spiders are your worst nightmare, this will probably make your skin crawl. Researchers at a university in Mexico recently announced the discovery of a spider that can camouflage itself so well it practically vanishes from sight. Called Paratropis tuxtlesis (say that three times fast!), the spider covers its body with dust and soil. This crusty coating of dirt helps the creepy crawler blend in perfectly with its surroundings, keeping it hidden from predators and allowing it to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.
Paratropis tuxtlesis was first spotted in a south-eastern state of Mexico in 2010. But news of its discovery was only just revealed this summer in a science journal. Experts say the spider’s near-perfect camouflage, as well as the fact that it moves very little, is the reason it remained undiscovered for so long.
This image shows an adult male Paratropis tuxtlensis that is covered in soil. Credit: Jorge I. Mendoza
It turns out the spider’s rough, scale-like skin is the secret to its success at hiding. Its skin oozes a sticky substance so that soil and dust particles cling to the body and make the eight-legged crawler difficult to spot. To help it see over this layer of dirt, the spider has specially developed eyes that are raised up.
So far, Paratropis tuxtlesis is only known to exist in the tropical rainforests of south-eastern Mexico.
Did You Know?
People who have a fear of spiders have a condition known as arachnophobia (say: uh-RAK-no-fo-be-ah). In extreme cases, even looking at a picture of a spider can cause them to panic.
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