Your Best Names for the Mystery Picket-Fence Spider

We asked for your suggestions to name the newly discovered spider that made the picket fence in the Peruvian Amazon, and readers didn’t disappoint.

Last fall, scientists at the Tambopata Research Center found a mysterious structure that looked like a circular picket fence. Despite searching, they couldn’t figure out what type of organism built such a structure.

mystery picket fence picture
The odd weblike structure was recently explained. Photograph by Jeff Cremer, Solent News/Rex Features via AP

Last week, we revealed that the enigmatic creature who built the picket fence was actually a spider. The center tower held a single egg, and scientists still aren’t sure whether the outer spokes protect the egg from predators, trap prey for when spiderlings hatch, or both.

The spider is believed to be new to science and thus nameless, given a lack of description in the research literature. Readers chimed in to share their thoughts on monikers for this mysterious spider that appears to be a bit of an architectural genius. (See National Geographic’s spider videos.)

A spiderling seen in December 2013 near the mysterious picket fence. Photograph by Jeff Cremer, Solent News/Rex Features via AP
A spiderling seen in December 2013 near the mysterious picket fence. Photograph by Jeff Cremer, Solent News/Rex Features via AP

Many of you liked the name Silkhenge suggested by the researchers, after the picket fence’s similarity to Stonehenge in England. Here are a few more of my favorites:

  • Druid spider, after the Druids who supposedly built Stonehenge.
  • Doc Holliday spider, “for making it OK out of the corral.”
  • Tom Sawyer spider, “for the picket fence that Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into painting, like this spider tricks mites and ants into coming towards.”
  • American Dream spider, after the white picket fence that is part of the stereotypical American dream.
  • Suburbanite spider.
  • Archipider spider, “i.e., a species of spider which is a natural Architectural genius.”
  • Carousel spider.
  • Picket-fence spider.
  • Hengeling spider.
  • Lord of the Rings fans had several suggestions: Isengard spider, Minas Tirith spider, or Gondor Spider.

One of you also urged the scientists to ask locals if they had a name for the spider and use that as a basis for its formal scientific name. (See more of your name suggestions from 2013.)

I will keep you posted as to what name the researchers ultimately select if this “Silkhenge” spider is determined to be a new species!

Do you have a name for this spider you haven’t yet shared? There’s still time! Head over to the comments section and let us know what you think!

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Changing Planet

Carrie is a freelance science writer living in Virginia. When she's not writing about cool critters, she's spending time outside, drinking coffee, or knitting. You can visit her website at http://www.carriearnold.com