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Spiders can be fascinating, scary, or a little of both! Whether they’re dancing, hunting, or being a pain in the nose, these new arachnid species we've discovered will knock all 8 of your socks off! Join Michael Aranda and check out this new episode of SciShow!
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Peacock Spider

Peek-a-Boo Jumping Spider

Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider

Eyeless Huntsman Spider


Behemoth Daddy Long Legs

Buckeye Dragon Mite

Kibale Nostril Tick

Charinus Whip Spiders
[SciShow intro plays]

Michael: You’ve got your spiders, scorpions, harvestmen, ticks, and mites. Arachnids aren’t the most popular group of animals – lots of people think they’re scary or just plain old pests. But they are fascinating, and important parts of ecosystems all around the world. Whether they’re dancing, hunting, or being a pain in the nose, there have been lots of amazing new arachnid species discovered or officially described in just the last five years.

We’ll start with a new species of peacock spider, which are basically the birds-of-paradise of the arachnid world. This little guy – just a few millimeters long – is called Maratus bubo [ma-RAH-tus BOO-boe] since his abdomen kinda happens to look like a horned owl. He’s one of seven new peacock spiders officially announced in May 2016, and was discovered in 2015 by Jürgen Otto [Yur-gen] and David Knowles, who were out spider-hunting in southwest Australia.

These brightly colored males strut their stuff to find a mate, and their dances are pretty impressive: Lifting two middle legs to frame his bright abdomen, he shimmies from side-to-side and jiggles his booty – eyes locked on his audience-of-one. This is supposed to show off how healthy he is, since he’s hoping to pass on his genes to the next generation of spiders. Otto and his colleague David Hill have helped discover and categorize dozens of peacock spiders, and more movers-and-shakers could be on the way soon.

Jürgen Otto found this other new species in 2015 – a jumping spider that was just sitting on his luggage as he unpacked from a camping trip! This critter doesn’t have the mad dancing flair of peacock spiders, and takes a more cautious approach to wooing the ladies... almost like playing “peek-a-boo.” The males have large hairy paddles on two of their middle legs, which are important in finding a mate. See, he’ll hide just out of his potential mate’s view – like, on the other side of a leaf – then stick out one of these paddles and wave. Now, female spiders of lots of species generally attack, kill, or even eat the males.

And Otto noticed that most of the females were lunging at the male spiders’ waving leg paddles. So, at first, Otto thought the male spider was trying to tire the female into submission... but eventually the males just gave up and scurried away. More research suggested it might have to do with finding out the female’s personality, or even whether she’s mated before. Certain spider species will only mate once, so if she’s aggressive, it might mean she can’t mate anymore. But if she sits still and tolerates his coy waving long enough, he’ll consider it an invitation to make a more... personal introduction.

This next spider may not have any fancy decorations, but it’s got its own signature move: the flic-flac or back handspring. It seems to move like a normal spider at first. But when it’s startled, it turns into a leggy tumbleweed and flings itself away from danger, or straight at whatever disturbed it – y’know, to act all macho and intimidating. It can flip forwards or backwards. But usually, the spider pushes off of its front legs and front-handsprings across the sand or even up slopes!

It’s the only spider known to move this way, and could even keep up with a human jogger. But such a high-energy move needs to be saved for emergency situations, or this spider would be exhausted. The flic-flac spider was discovered in 2009 by Ingo Rechenberg [REHH-en-berg], a bionics professor from Berlin who was visiting the Erg Chebbi [urg cheh-bee] desert in Morocco.

Rechenberg was so impressed by the spider’s tumbling that he built some rolling robots that mimic its movement – especially to help the robots move across sand, a notoriously challenging terrain. He also showed the spider to arachnologist Peter Jäger [YAY-ger] from the Senckenberg [ZEN-ken-berg] Research Institute in Frankfurt, who officially described the new species in 2014, and named it after its discoverer.

How many eyes do spiders have? You might be thinking eight... but not always! This new species of huntsman spider, discovered by Peter Jäger in a cave in Laos, has zero. If you spend your life in the pitch black, it’s better to use energy for other senses like smell or touch, because vision isn’t gonna help you get around. So it’s not unusual for animals living deep underground, underwater, or in caves to lose their eyesight over evolutionary time. But this spider’s not just blind – it’s completely eyeless.

No lenses, no light detecting pigments, just a smooth, featureless face above those menacing fangs. Jäger found other new huntsman spider species in the Laos caves, but none of them had completely gotten rid of their eyes! That being said, some of the species’ eyes were more developed than others, ranging from a complete-looking set of eight, to two tiny remnants that probably didn’t do much. We’ve got a lot to learn before we understand why these spiders live in such similar environments, but apparently see the world so differently.

Lots of people have heard Spiderman’s origin story... over and over again, thanks to all the reboots... but the origin of spiders is much more mysterious to scientists. However new research published in March 2016 on a proto-spider, or almost-spider, fossil from France tells us more of this ancient story. In fact, they even named this proto-spider after a Greek myth – Arachne who was turned into a spider by the goddess Athena for her pride, and her father Idmon [id-mahn].

The 305-million-year-old fossil is stunningly well-preserved – it’s even in 3D! And the team of researchers, headed by Russell Garwood from the University of Manchester, used high-res scanning techniques to create a detailed “virtual fossil. ” That way, they could study how it compares to modern spiders.

It does look a lot like a spider, which suggests that this body plan is pretty ancient. But it doesn’t have spinnerets, those silk-spinning organs that all modern spiders have. The researchers think this proto-spider did have a simple way to make silk. But without spinnerets it wouldn’t have had enough control to make intricate webs – the silk would just kinda spurt out. So they think the fossil is an ancient cousin, not a direct ancestor of the modern spider. And spinnerets must’ve appeared in a later, separate part of the spider’s history.

In the forests around the southwest Oregon mountains, there lives a creature known as Cryptomaster behemoth. It might sound like something out of a conspiracy theory, but this little monster is real. But it’s not a spider. It’s a harvestman, which some people call daddy-long-legs.

In 1969, the Cryptomaster leviathan was discovered, and named for its secretive behavior and large body size compared to other daddy-long-legs. For decades, it was thought to be one-of-a-kind in the genus... until January this year. A team from San Diego University collected 77 Cryptomaster daddy-long-legs from 14 different regions of southern Oregon.

And they weren’t all similar. Careful measurements of body parts, mapping their habitats, and genetic analyses all confirmed that the Cryptomaster genus was really two species, not just one. So, they had to pick a name for this sister species. And what’s worthy enough to match the biblical leviathan? Well, a behemoth of course!

Mites are one of the smallest and most diverse group of arachnids – including the things that live on your face, or the dust mites in your bed. This cool worm-like mite species, called the buckeye dragon mite, was discovered by Samuel Bolton in the exotic soil of the Ohio State University campus and described in 2014. It MITE not look like much at first, but electron microscopy reveals a whole new beast.

It’s a microbivore, or something that feeds on single-celled organisms like yeast and bacteria – but only the juices inside. Bolton’s team studied this mite’s intricate mouthparts and think its feeding habits probably resemble something between a hamster and a trash compactor. Here’s their hypothesis: as the mite travels through the soil, special cup-shaped hairs near its mouth attract microbes through intermolecular forces. The microbes get stored in a little pouch above its mouth, and when the time is right, the researchers think a pincer stabs into the pouch, crushing the cells until they burst and release all those delicious juices.

The team hasn’t observed the buckeye dragon mite feeding to test their theory, but they think this technique would extract lots of nutritious microbial goop – great for living in poor quality soil where food is hard to come by.

To discover a new arachnid, sometimes you just need to follow your nose. Not that researcher Tony Goldberg had much of a choice. After a research trip to Kibale [ki-BALL-ay], Uganda in 2012, he returned to his University of Wisconsin-Madison lab and felt a sharp pain up his right nostril.

And he discovered... a tick. These bloodsuckers are well known for latching onto skin, but the nose thing isn’t well understood. And this tick’s DNA wasn’t a match for any known species, so it could be a new one.

To know for sure, the team needs to do some more research. But the tick did inspire a different kind of study: Goldberg researches diseases that are transmitted between humans and animals. And he wanted to study whether chimpanzees in Kibale also had these nose ticks – especially because ticks can spread some pretty nasty diseases.

He called up some colleagues who had hundreds of photos of young chimp faces for their own research on facial development, and at least 20% of them had nostril stowaways! It seems really unlikely that so many ticks would get randomly get lost and end up in their noses, so it could be a survival strategy – to avoid being caught by social grooming.

Brazil is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, and can be a great place to find new species. So two researchers from Rio de Janeiro and Copenhagen thought that the number of Brazilian whip spiders was suspiciously low compared to nearby countries.

And they wanted to test if this was really true, or just a gap in the research. Whip spiders are not actually spiders, despite their name and looks. They don’t have silk or venom glands like most spiders, and use spiny claw-like pedipalps to catch insect and small vertebrate prey.

The “whips” are modified front legs that work as touch and chemical sensors, which help them navigate the caves and forest floors where they live. The researchers scoured Brazilian museum collections for whip spiders from the Amazon, focusing on one genus called Charinus [CARE-in-us]. Taking painstaking measurements of specimens’ legs, eyes, and genitals, they uncovered 8 new whip spiders native to Brazil – almost doubling the known species in the Charinus genus as of February 2016.

Work like this helps understand the area’s full biodiversity while it’s still there, since these whip spiders’ habitats are threatened by dam building, deforestation, and mining. So even though they get a bad rep sometimes, all these new arachnid species have their own, awesome stories and niche on Earth.

Thanks to Jürgen Otto, Ingo Rechenberg, Peter Jäger, Russell Garwood, James Starrett, Samuel Bolton, Tony Goldberg and Gustavo Silva de Miranda for their help with this episode, I apologize if I said your name wrong, and thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who make this show possible. If you want to help us keep making videos like this, just go to And don’t forget to go to and subscribe!