A previously unknown species of spider belonging to the genus Paratropis has been discovered in the tropical rainforest in Veracruz, eastern Mexico, in the natural reserve La Estación de Biología Tropical “Los Tuxtlas”.
According to the researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, this is the first North American record of the Paratropididae family found in the tropical Americas. Other members of this family have been found in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Panama and the West Indies.
Named Paratropis tuxtlensis, the spider is a master of camouflage. It covers its entire body with soil particles that stick to it, forming an armour-like ‘disguise’ that keeps them safe from potential predators. The spider, the researchers explained in a news release, "has glandular pores that excrete a sticky secretion to help stick the soil particles to its body".
The brownish-red spider with olive markings on its legs doesn’t burrow, it just hides under rocks and in the soil, waiting patiently for prey to come by.
“The specimens were collected in tropical rainforest, under boulders on the ground. They remained motionless when they were exposed by removing the rock that provided shelter, possibly as a defense mechanism because the soil particles encrusted on the body cuticle serves as camouflage with the moist ground," wrote the researchers in a paper published in the journal ZooKeys.