Scientists Identify 50,000th Spider Species on Earth—but Thousands More Are Waiting to Be Discovered

A new kind of jumping spider discovered in South America marks the major milestone

A close up of a female jumping spider called Guriurius minuano. The spider has large black beady eyes and a tan colored body.
 The newly described jumping spider, Guriurius minuano, has a stripy pattern on its abdomen and large black eyes. (Pictured) Damián Hagopián

Scientists have discovered a new species of spider, bringing the worldwide count to 50,000 species, but experts suspect at least as many more spiders are waiting to be discovered, per a statement by the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland.

The spider, Guriurius minuano, belongs to the family of beady-eyed jumping spiders (Salticidae) and resides in shrubs and trees in some parts of South America, Agence France Presse reports. First described by researchers in Brazil, the spider was reported to the World Spider Catalog (WSC). Details on the WSC's newest species were published this month in Zootaxa.

Guriurius minuano was named after the Minuane people. According to the AFP, this now-extinct ethnic group lived in southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, the same regions where the arachnid is located. The jumping spider has a stripy pattern on its abdomen and large black eyes.

The first spider species was described in 1757. In 265 years, experts have described 50,000 species. Arachnologists suspect that in less than 100 years, another 50,000 spiders will be discovered, CNET's Amanda Kooser reports.

Jumping spiders are known for their ability to pounce on their prey. There are about 6,000 described species in over 600 genera of jumping spiders, making them the most prominent taxonomic family of spiders, according to Guinness World Records. These diverse, brightly colored, and intricately patterned arachnids are typically found in the tropics, but some rare species also live in cold regions, including the Arctic.

Jumping spiders have the sharpest vision of their spidey cousins and use this advantage to stalk their prey with precision, reported Betsy Mason for Science News in October 2021. Some species of jumping spider can see ultraviolet light and blue and green colors, Live Science's Stephanie Pappas reported in 2021.

Many members of the Salticidae family also have elaborate, animated courtship dances, often featuring vigorous body shaking and twitching of their eight legs. In 2012, a jumping spider of the species, Phidippus johnsoni, became the world's first "spidernaut" and made the International Space Station its home for 100 days before returning to Earth to live at the Insect Zoo in Smithsonian's National Musem Natural History. The spider was the first jumping spider to travel to space and successfully readjust to life on Earth.

Despite giving some individuals the creeps, arachnids are pest control professionals. It is estimated that spiders consume between 400 to 800 million metric tons of insects every year. They are one of the most crucial predators on Earth's terrestrial habitats, per a statement.

All scientific literature relating to the taxonomy of spiders has been accessible for free on the museum's website since 2014, per a statement.

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