Possible new spider species di

Photo: Andrew Baxter

Possible new spider species discovered on Table Mountain National Park

Possible new spider species and a new species of sedge were recently discovered on Table Mountain National Park.

Possible new spider species di

Photo: Andrew Baxter

After researchers found new species of jellyfish and a new pygmy seahorse in and around South Africa over the last couple of months, it seems that researchers have made two new exciting discoveries on Table Mountain National Park.

‘The Red Widow’

The first is a spider they’ve dubbed the ‘Red Widow’ that was found by Dr Andrew Baxter on Table Mountain National Park. According to reports, while they are unsure of whether this spider is a new species, its discovery is exciting none the less. It will undergo a formal taxonomic classification process to determine whether or not it is a brand new species.

“After a chance encounter with a remarkable little red spider on Table Mountain, Jen Deiner and I went in search of a live specimen,” Baxter wrote on Facebook. “After lots of bush-whacking, log-turning, stone-lifting and stick-poking, we found not one but two specimens (apparently a male and a female). The male has the enlarged pedipalps. The female has a slightly darker abdomen. Their size is approx 1 cm (body).”

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It’s currently believed that the spiders could belong to the Theridiidae family (along with button spiders/widows) or they might belong to a genus (possibly not described) from the family Cyatholipidae. Either way, it’s said that the discovery is bringing lots of excitement to the spider world.

On The Spider Club of Southern Africa Facebook group, Baxter also said that the objective is to seek a description from a Theridiidae expert with a view to determining the taxonomy. It’s said that if this spider is an undescribed species then ultimately they would hope for a classification – but this can apparently be a complex process.

South African National Parks (SANParks) also went on to share the news on Facebook, with some joking that it is actually the spider that bit Peter Parker in the Marvel Comics.

“I’m pretty sure that is what bit Peter Parker. The resemblance is uncanny,” said one Facebook user, Nick Gates. “You should totally name this after the Marvel Comics character ‘Scarlet Spider'”, said another.


A new species of sedge

Another discovery is a new species of sedge, called ‘the Hidden veldrush’ or Schoenus inconspicuus that was found in the Tokai Park section. According to Tony Rebelo, it is listed as Critically Endangered with extinction, and there are less than 10 plants known to exist in the world, of which almost half are in the Tokai Park section of Table Mountain Park, writes Cape Town etc.