BEACON TRANSCRIPT – After discovering it in Brazil, researchers had the cave-dwelling spider named after a ‘Lord of The Rings’ character that had certain traits in common with the arachnid.
Researchers from the University of São Paulo have found a new species of harvestman spiders and named it after a very famous fictional character. It seems J.R.R. Tolkien’s world has now slithered into the scientific community. The team of researchers named the new spider species landumoema smeagol.
Smeagol, or his alter-ego Gollum, was known for being a odd-looking creature once a hobbit himself. Corrupted by the evil power of the ring that was the catalyst to the entire franchise, his appearance started to change over the years. When viewers meet him, he is a thin creature, with pale skin, bulging eyes, and nearly half of his teeth gone. He lurked around the dark, wet caves, munching on whatever there was to be found, including carcasses.
Much like the fictional character is named after, the pale spider with long, thin limbs lurks around the limestone caves and the wet walls around its inside streams. It seems that the dark and moist environment is the most preferred. And, it seems to be unique to the Brazilian land, and that particular state.
Amusingly, the area is called Minas Gerais, which does have a familiar ring. It has a similar name to a location in the same ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, Minas Tirith.
The team of scientists, led by Ricardo Pinto-da-Rocha, found a number of 14 adults and juveniles around the Brazilian caves. They remained close to the streams, hanging around the damp walls around them. The adults seemed to be largely sedentary, mainly staying in the same place. The youth, however, appeared to be a little more active.
The new troglobitic harvestman spiders are the first blind species of their genus. And, as indicative from their name, they were found in organic matters around the cave. Some even ventured out of their spots to scavenge the carcasses of various invertebrates around their home. Much like their namesake, they remained mainly in the dark.
Pinto-da-Rocha and his colleagues have stated that their population is now threatened by both limestone extraction and logging operations into the areas. They have proposed long-term studies in order to establish proper policies that would protect the species of spiders. Their pale color and ghostly limbs are not a thing of beauty, but then again, neither was Smeagol.
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