Thursday, March 31, 2011

Human face on back of rare spider found!

A rare spider that has the markings of a human face on its back has been discovered at an English nature reserve.

The hairy arachnid is a lichen crab spider and is so scarce that only 41 of them have been spotted in Britain since 1890.

Despite its hairy appearance and grumpy-looking 'face' on its abdomen, the eight-legged creature is harmless to humans.

The spider - Philodromus margaritatus in Latin - gets its name because it is usually found on lichen covered tree trunks and its body is camouflaged to resemble its surroundings.

They grow to about the size of a 20 pence piece and consume small insects such as ants that they chase after at relatively high speeds.

Mark Singleton, who works at the RSPB nature reserve at Arne, near Wareham, Dorset, said: 'This is the first one that has been found in Dorset in 35 years.

'It is something of a rarity. If this were a bird, the queues would be stretching round the car park. But it's not, it's a spider with a slightly amusing abdomen.

'We found it in the electricity box a few feet from our work centre and got quite excited when we realised what it was.'

Rather oddly, the spiders are not widespread in the UK and have only been spotted in southern England and northern Scotland before.

They are, however, widespread in central and western Europe.

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