FunNature & AnimalThe pelican spider, an extinct cannibal species, has been...

The pelican spider, an extinct cannibal species, has been rediscovered in Australia

There seems to be good news for Australia’s wildlife . And it is that the pelican spider , also called Zephyrarchaea austini (or killer spider ), has reappeared on Kangaroo Island, thus becoming a scientific miracle that has raised the hopes of many experts.

The pelican spider is a very special type of spider that owes its name to the resemblance of its head to that of a bird: it has an unusual long neck and long claws lined with fangs, the chelicerae, which represent the beak.

It is a cannibal spider, which eats in the morning, at noon and at night, in addition to feeding on other spiders.

In fact, he possesses an incredible hunting technique . When standing in front of a cobweb, it gently moves it by vibrating it with its front legs to attract the one who built it. When this prey approaches the hunter, the latter will attract it with its legs, with its head forward, on its long claws that inject venom into it. Its long neck allows it to keep its prey, impaled on one of the claws, away until it becomes harmless.

And, although it is mainly found in Madagascar, it also exists in South Africa and Australia. In the latter country, after the fires of 2019 and 2020, it is estimated that close to three million animals died, a real disaster for both the flora and the local fauna. But with the discovery of the pelican spider, which was considered extinct, hope has returned.

On Kangaroo Island, this species was considered extinct by scientists after the terrible events that affected the country. We must remember that the fires also affected the territory of this arachnid, so the experts were convinced that the species had definitely disappeared from the surface of the Earth .

And it is that it is a species vulnerable to fires, since it lives in the litter suspended in the low vegetation, which tends to burn very easily when forest fires occur.

But last September, different investigations revealed two specimens: a female and a small one.

According to the discoverers, the female was found in a small pile of leaves at least four kilometers from where she originally lived. The feat is even more remarkable when we know its size: between two and eight millimeters.

Although the discovery occurred a few months ago, the truth is that the news was not officially known until scientists were able to confirm the return of this species.

Despite this, experts consider that it is quite likely that the pelican spider is not the only one that has been seriously affected by the fires. In fact, a report published in October found that more than 14,000 species of invertebrates had lost their habitat as a result of the 2019 and 2020 wildfires, recommending doubling the number of species listed as threatened.

Meanwhile, researchers continue to search for more sightings that may increase the known range of this spider, while warning that wild boar activity in the northwest of the island would threaten its survival (and not just fire), as they tend to dig up vegetation and around stream edges, which would affect the spider’s habitat.

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