NEW ARACHNID NAMED FOR ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ CHARACTER
Look down here my precioussssss. Scientists in Brazil have just identified a new species of harvestman, or daddy longlegs, and they’ve named it with a playful-but-accurate reference to a character from the "Lord of the Rings" saga. Here’s what you need to know. (Full story: http://on.natgeo.com/1Tcyxpa)
- •Meet "Iandumoema smeagol.""Iandumoema smeagol" is an eyeless, cave-dwelling harvestman named for Smeagol, the hapless hobbit who became slimy cave-dweller Gollum in J.R.R. Tolkien's series of novels (and later, films). (Photo by Rafael Fonseca-Ferreira)
- •There’s a reason for the name.“Its name matches its biology,” says arachnid expert Christopher Buddle of Canada's McGill University, referring to the fact that Smeagol spent years isolated in a cave, eventually growing into the pale, secluded Gollum.
- •But it’s not a spider.Harvestmen are arachnids but not spiders. They belong to a different order ("Opiliones"). Harvestmen have a single pair of eyes and a fused body structure that differs from spiders, which they otherwise superficially resemble.
- •Are they dangerous?Harvestmen are a diverse group of more than 6,500 species. They are often scavengers or omnivores, and those that are hunters aren’t considered dangerous to people because they lack venom and sharp teeth.
- •It could be a vulnerable species.The cave it calls home is not protected, leading the Brazilian scientists who described it noting that it could be vulnerable to extinction, since it would be difficult for the animal to spread to other areas.