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Tuesday, 12 January 2010 03:28

Just discovered spider species found in Israel. It's already endangered!

Israeli biologists have discovered for the first time a large species of spider that lives in the Middle East, specifically, in the dune in the Sands of Samar, a kibbutz (collective community) in the southern region of the Arava desert within Israel. The bad news is its habitat is being destroyed by human encroachment!

The newly discovered spider species was discovered by a team of biologists from the Department of Biology at the University of Haifa at Oranim, a university of Israel.

The newly discovered spider species—called Cerbalus aravensis—was found in the dune near the kibbutz called Samar, which is located in the Araba valley in the far southern portion of Israel.

Samar is also near to the city of Eilat (Israel’s most southermost city) which is located at the northern tip of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Eilat. Samar is also near the Israel-Jordon border.

C. aravensis has a body span of about 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) and a leg span of about 14 centimeters (5.5 inches).

It is a nocturnal spider, being active usually only during the daylight hours and commonly during the times when the temperatures are the hottest in the arid region of Israel.

According to the discovery team, the spider species lives underground in camouflaged dens that it seals off with doors made of sand particles glued together.

Other physical characteristics of the C. aravensis are still being discovered as the scientists continue to study its new spider species.

Page two shows a slideshow of the spider.

The UH-O article states, "During a course of studies that Dr. Shanas's research team has carried out in the region, they discovered this new spider, a member of the Cerbalus genus. Since it has been found in the Arava, it has been given the name Cerbalus aravensis."

Fox News shows a 13-part slideshow of the spider.

Please go to “Creepy Spiders.”

Now that the scientists have found this newly discovered spider, they are a little worried about its future.

The Sands of Samar, in which Cerbalus aravensis was found, is a dwindling sand dune—in fact, it is considered the last sand dune left in Israel.

At one time the sand dune had an area of about seven square kilometers (2.7 square miles), but it has been reduced to less than three square kilometers (1.2 square mile).

The decreased land area of the Sands of Samar are due primarily to human intervention in the areas of agriculture and sand quarrying.

The press release of the discovery comes from the University of Haifa-Oranim. The article is entitled “New Spider Species Discovered.”

The UH-O article states that the spider’s habitat is endangered.

Page three concludes with additional comments and statements from the Universiy of Haifa-Oranim press release.

Specifically, Dr. Uri Shanas (a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa-Oranim), who headed the biological team, states, “The discovery of this new spider illustrates our obligation to preserve the dune.”

According to the University of Haifa press release, Dr. Shanas has confirmed that “… the Israel Land Administration intends to renew mining projects in the Sands of Samar in the near future, which will endanger the existence of the newly discovered spider.”

The UH article also states, “He [Shanas] adds that it is possible that there are additional unknown animal species living in the sands, and therefore efforts should be made to preserve this unique region in the Arava."

Dr. Shanas states (in the same UH article), “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."

And, "If we do not preserve the few habitats that remain for these species, they will become extinct before we can even discover them.”

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