On 6 April 2011 while working at the desk something small on the wall caught my eye.
‘Twas the tiny spider depicted here…
Under the microscope the spider’s legs were seen to sport so many erect spines that they appeared similar to thorny twigs. That’s the first thing that caught my attention, and it happens that few spiders are so distinguished. Looking closer, the face is reminiscent of another, though much larger, species which also has legs covered with spines.
The green lynx (Peucetia viridans Hentz 1832), besides having legs covered with spines, has a similar face to that of this specimen: flat with an extended clypeus (the portion of the face between the jaws and the lowest eyes), and — most striking of all — dark stripes that extend from the lowest eyes downward, through the clypeus, and onto the jaws (chelicerae), then downward toward, but not quite reaching, the lower extremities of the jaws.
But, besides being huge by comparison, the green lynx is — as its common name implies — bright green. This subject, however, has a pale, somewhat translucent background. Though not a green lynx, it seemed reasonable to presume that it belongs to the same family.
That family, the Oxyopidae, was first described by the Swedish arachnologist Tord Tamerlan Thorell (1830-1901). Thorell was a prodigious scholar who described more than 1,000 new species of spiders during his lifetime. To craft the family name, he borrowed a name first applied by Pierre Andre Latreille (1762-1833) in 1804 to a genus of spiders he called the Oxyopes. This generic name prefixed the Greek adjective οξυς- (oxus) = “sharp, keen, pointed,” with the Greek combining form -ωπης (opes) = “having eyes so characterized.” To this name Thorell added the patronymic Greek suffix ιδες (idae), following accepted zoological nomenclature to designate a family name. Thus both Latreille and Thorell focused on the fact that the spiders they so designated are sharp-eyed hunters.
Fortunately, we are availed of considerable literature on the Oxyopidae family and the genus Oxyopes. A quick perusal of those sources provided abundant evidence that this was either an immature female striped lynx (Oxyopes salticus Hentz 1845), or a very close relative.
In future amendments to this article, details relating to the morphological characters that distinguish this specimen will be presented.
Suffice it to say, at this juncture, that the evidence for this being an immature female rests in the observations that mature females are larger than this specimen (3.4-3.57mm), and have well-sclerotized epigynums, while that of this specmen is practically nonexistent.
The presence of a thin, dark, unbroken longitudinal line on the ventral femoral surfaces of legs I, II, and III (see photo 004, above) distinguishes this species from another with an almost identical face (Oxyopes aglossus), but though the dark lines on the ventral femora of legs I and II are identical to those of O. salticus, that of leg III is broken and indistinct (Kaston 1978, pp.198-199).
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