Wildlife

New spider found in giant sand dune in Israel

A new species of spider has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar in the southern Arava region of Israel, scientists from from the department of biology at the University of Haifa-Oranim said this week.

With a leg span of up to 5.5 inches (14 centimeters), the new spider is the largest of its type in the Middle East, the scientists said.

Its habitat is endangered. “It could be that there are other unknown species [in the dune] that will become extinct before we can discover them,” said Uri Shanas of the University of Haifa, who is heading research in the area.

Cerbalus-aravensis-spider-photo-1.jpg

Photo by Yael Olek, courtesy of the University of Haifa

“The discovery of this new spider illustrates our obligation to preserve the dune,” Shanas said.

The Sands of Samar are the last remaining sand dune in Israeli territory in the southern Arava region, the university said. In the past, the sands stretched some three square miles (seven square kilometers), but due to the rezoning of areas for agriculture and sand quarries, the sands have been reduced to less than half that.

The spider is a member of the Cerbalus genus. Since it was found in the Arava, it was been given the name Cerbalus aravensis.

Cerbalus-aravensis-spider-photo-2.jpg

Photo by Yael Olek, courtesy of the University of Haifa

“Even though details are still lacking to enable a full analysis of its biology and of its population in the sands, the scientists know that this is a nocturnal spider, mostly active in the hottest months of the year, and that it constructs an underground den which is closed with a ‘lifting door’ made of sand particles that are glued together to camouflage the den,” the university explained.

Cerbalus-aravensis-spider-photo-3.jpg

Photo by Roy Talbi, courtesy of the University of Haifa

The Israel Land Administration intends to renew mining projects in the Sands of Samar in the near future, which will endanger the existence of the newly discovered spider, Shanas said.

It is possible that there are additional unknown animal species living in the sands, and therefore efforts should be made to preserve this unique region in the Arava, the researcher added.

“The new discovery shows how much we still have to investigate, and that there are likely to be many more species that are unknown to us. If we do not preserve the few habitats that remain for these species, they will become extinct before we can even discover them,” Shanas said.

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Mike

    Both cool and interesting!

  • Vulpini

    Israel Land Administration stop those mining projects. I can’t accept any more extinctions. Cerbalus Aravensis is a new specie and we don’t know a lot about them and now they’re about to extinct? Plus they look really beautiful.

  • Coats

    Are they poisonous? the look like long legged trantulas, are they in the family Theraphosidae?

  • YoungGringos

    beautiful! I hope we can keep them around.

  • jamie13

    wow! lovin it!

  • coleman

    awesome!

  • saveourearth

    it’s beautiful! i hope we get to keep them around!

  • eyal

    cool in the Bible spiders represent time it’s about time hope they will survive for a long time… 🙂

  • michael mallows

    It is indeed a beautiful creature!
    And it is truly lamentable that so many of us can be so indifferent to beauty or to the sanctity of Life.
    I wish it were not so, and my heart cries out at the desecration of our world.
    And yet, and yet, I know that, in response to so much that matters, in truth, I will do little to make any meaningful difference.
    I am tempted to ‘justify’ this by listing what I already do, or by expressing my indignation ever more vociferously, but what I’ll settle for is simply to speak the simple truth of this message; I DO care but not enough.
    Go well

  • joe cole

    Wow the best I Spider beautiful rare photo was actually pretty toxic strains have silk.

  • Tennessee Individual Health Insurance

    Cool! I really hope we can keep the around.

  • Tom1492

    It is our obligation not just to preserve the dunes but also all natural resources as well for our sakes. What an amazing creature and thank you NG for being one of the best net sources for all things living and wonderful.

  • Susancai

    We must protect the chain of life, the species. A great many species are endangering. We human beings need to reflect on some behaviors.

  • kamal

    thank u so much for this good article

  • kamal

    i like this blog

    thank u so much for this good article

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  • caron1

    I havent any word to appreciate this post…..Really i am impressed from this post….the person who generate this post it was a great human..thanks for sharing this with us.

  • zmarburg

    Amazing findings. I have studied similar discoveries for years now, the dune tarantula is one of the rarest forms I’ve ever scene. Has due credit been given to these discoveries?

  • todoslot

    nice article, definitely.

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  • atlantaplumber

    In the plumbing business we run across black widow spiders on a daily basis. For some reason they love those damp water meter boxes. If I saw a spider that big in a water box I would quit opening them for good.

  • קידום אתרים

    wow guys, great article very informative, be back soon!

  • shen

    This blog is great. I have learned lots of things from here. Thanks.

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    interesting spider, but look dangerous to me.

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    wow!
    it is a great article!I like this site.

  • walk in tubs

    Is the spider poisonous?
    I bookmarked it into my facebook and digg and share the good stuff with my friends too,Keep up work.Is there more aspect
    about this subject?I am looking forward to seeing it .

  • lbrother

    this huge spider looks pretty scarable, its gotta be posionous.

  • panasonic

    Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  • travelcrazyjim

    I have never seen such a colourful sipder. That looks great.

  • travelcrazyjim

    Looks great! Keep finding such incredible creatures.

  • Thong Lee

    Is the spider poisonous?
    I bookmarked it into my facebook and digg and share the good stuff with my friends too,Keep up work.Is there more aspect
    about this subject?I am looking forward to seeing it .
    Regards,
    Lee

  • jack

    thanks for sharing

  • KULALA

    that’s weird!! But I simply love it.

  • kobe

    I think it is very dangerous!
    thank alot of!

  • mivpl

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing ability has inspired me. Really the article is spreading its wings rapidly…

  • manolo

    It is beautiful , looks poisonous to me.

  • sean

    It’s funny.

  • KULALA

    Wow that is a really beautiful creature mash’Allah..the colors are just amazing, but I wouldn’t want to see those colors close up :/

  • Bill Andreas

    Arava region, the university said. In the past, the sands stretched some three square miles (seven square kilometers), but due to the rezoning of areas for agriculture and sand quarries, the sands have been reduced to less than half that.

  • Franz

    14 cm for a new found spider is very large. The first photo looks great. thanks

  • madina

    nice photos.

  • madina

    Is the spider poisonous?

  • Husker

    It is possible that there are additional unknown animal species living in the sands, and therefore efforts should be made to preserve this unique region in the Arava

  • Ab type 011

    Awww…I want one XD…No, seriously, I WANT one.

  • prasad

    i got Cerbalus aravensis spider at my home.Are they poisonous? the look like long legged trantulas, are they in the family Theraphosidae?

  • Jasmin Betts

    Hey nice spider…

  • ahmed

    we should name it “the white and black sand spider

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  • Corndog

    Helped me with my project thanx 🙂

  • mendy

    Is it possible that I could have seen this exact spider in meron- I picked up a rock and a spider that looked EXACTLY like the one in the pic was there

  • Anette

    I think this spider is a traveller .
    my sister saw this sort of spider 2007 in the desert south of Tunisia. (since this time I was interested of this spider – very nice spider!)
    Or did this spider has a near relative in africa?

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