Eye of the spider…or not

The world's first eyeless huntsman spider in its original habitat. Credit: Senckenberg/Peter Jäger.

A German scientist has discovered the world’s first eyeless huntsman spider.

With a body size of 12 millimetres and a leg span of six centimetres, the spider Sinopoda scurion is certainly not one of the largest huntsman spiders out there. But it is the first of its kind to be found without eyes.

Arachnologist Peter Jäger, from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany, found the eyeless spider in a cave in Laos, approximately 100 kilometres away from the famous Xe Bang Fai cave. “We already knew of spiders of this genus from other caves, but they always had eyes and complete pigmentation,” he says. “Sinopoda scurion is the first huntsman spider without eyes.”

Ironically, Jäger named the eyeless spider after the Swiss company Scurion, which makes headlamps for caves. The species lack of eyes can probably be attributed to the spiders living permanently without daylight.

This adaptation has been observed at various stages in other cave-dwelling spiders: some have eight functioning eyes, while others may have six, four and two working lenses or are blind. Because of the small scale of their habitat, it could be possible to study how the spiders have adapted to living in caves- the number of eyes present and how well they function could shed some light on when the spiders arrived in the caves.

Source: The Senckenberg Research Institute

Front view of Sinopoda scurion — the spider’s eyes are completely missing. Credit: Senckenberg/Peter Jäger

 

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