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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 24jan26013 / item one

On the trail of the Trogloraptor

SPIDERS … Like snakes, I was afraid of spiders as a young child. We lived among black widows and my mom even got bit by one, hiding in the sleeve of a jacket she put on. She was sick for days … But meeting an herpetologist at Pinnacles National Monument in California, I learned to love snakes – recognizing the danger but respecting their power and beauty. And after 30 years living in Norwood on a property with many old outbuildings and in a house with many resident spiders, I’ve come to an arrangement of sorts. I like to say, they don’t bite me and I don’t kill them. Both of these statements are true, although there may be no direct correlation between them. However, in my own magical worldview, there is. And I take great care to escort spiders out of my home (where a good number provide fly-catching webs, eliminating one of the area’s summer pests).

My success in doing so relates in no small way to making use of that wonderful humane spider trapping tool, the BugZooka – an air gun that sucks up spiders and lets you relocate them outside, unharmed … Having become a fan of spiders now (one of the great Diné feminine deities), I was delighted to learn in a recent issue of Science News of the discovery of a whole new family of spiders, Trogloraptoridae. Tens of thousands of new species are discovered every year, but finding a new family of critters is very rare. These new specimens sport big, three-part claws and spikes on curved feet and measure about three inches with feet extended. So far, this spider family has only one genus and only one species. It was discovered by cavers in southern Oregon, and was dubbed Trogloraptor (“cave robber”) marchingtoni (for amateur spelunker and deputy sheriff Neil Marchington). However, specimens have also turned up in the redwoods of Jedediah Smith State Park in California, and may be a second species of the genus Trogloraptor.

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