New Species of Giant Spider Discovered in Israel
by Shah Hamadan Khan, age 13
Researchers from the University of Haifa-Oranim have found a new spider lurking in the Sands of Samar, a large sand dune in Israel. With a leg span of almost six inches, this new species, the Cerbalus aravaensis, is the largest known arachnid of its kind.
“The new discovery shows how much we still have to investigate, and that there are likely to be many more species that are unknown to us,” said Dr. Uri Shanas, leader of the university’s research in that area.
The Cerbalus aravaensis is a dangerous predator at night. This spider is most active during the hottest months, when it hunts for lizards and small prey that pass its underground den.
But this efficient predator is itself living in a world full of dangers. Human activities such as re-zoning for agriculture, housing, quarries and mines are destroying the spider’s habitat and decrease its hunting space, which greatly endangers their survival.
Shanas says if their population keeps decreasing at the current rate, the Cerbalus aravaensis will become extinct before scientists can make more observations.
[Sources: www.NYdailynews.com; Science Illustrated]