Endemic Spider Species Discovered by Croatian Scientist

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Croatian molecular biologist Martina Pavlek discovered a previously unknown spider species present only in Croatia, reports 24sata.

The endemic species from Biokovo was given a Latin name Kryptonesticus deelemanae. The spider measures 1 centimetre in length and populates caves. “Bio-speleologists discovered the first specimen back in 1995, but didn’t analyse them. It takes an expert to examine them to be able to conclude it’s a new species. I came across the spider when I was a master thesis mentor, going through the collected research material,” said Pavlek.
She works at the Ruđer Bošković Institute and is a member of the Croatian bio-speleologists association, exploring caves in her spare time.

Pavlek presented her discovery in the European Journal of Taxonomy, naming the Spanish scientist Carles Ribera of the University of Barcelona as the co-author of the paper. “Professor Ribera is a leading European expert for subterranean spider species. I presented him with my discovery so he could examine the data and determine if we really have a new species at hand,” she said.

The endemic sort was spotted in the caves of Samogora, Tučepska vilenjača and Pretnerova jama. “When you enter a cave for the first time, you think it’s empty and that there’s nothing in it. The animals are quiet and slow, so we tend to use certain tricks to draw them out. One of them is taking a stone from the ground and blowing at the surface; the animals feel the air circulating so they start to move.” explained the scientist.

Pavlek has dicovered around 20 new species so far, all of them awaiting further research. “Biokovo remains a mystery for us scientists and bio-speleologists. The entire Dinarides are a hot spot, it’s a very rich area that’s practically unexplored. We keep finding new things,” Pavlek said. She’s continuing her research on Biokovo this month, along with other volunteers participating in the expedition called Biokovo 2017 that aims to determine how the changes in climate affect the development of subterranean fauna.


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