24 December 2012
Researchers in the Amazon have found a spider which builds a web that looks like a bigger spider.
The scientists have yet to establish if it is a new species or a new behaviour of an already discovered spider.
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With the help of small pieces of leaf, dead insects and other debris, a spider in the Amazon rainforest has created a detailed replica of a spider larger than itself.
The crafty spider is thought to be a new member of the genus Cyclosa, a family of spiders which has created decoys before using spare egg sacs. But this new spider's sculpture is the first to have leg-like appendages.
Phil Torres, a biologist from the Rainforest Expeditions, thinks they might have discovered a completely new species:
When you first see it, it just looks like a spider hanging in a web. It's about an inch and an half long.
As you approach, it kind of looks like a dead spider as well but as you approach it starts to move back and forth. There's a little spider hanging on the back of it so you'll see little pieces of leaf, little pieces of twig. There's even a dead insect in there.
There must be very heavy predatory influence that it would evolve to have such an intriguing defence.
Mr Torres will be returning to the Amazon rainforest in January next year to investigate further as this masterful spider is yet to be recognised as a new species.
Mr Torres' discovery will be registered, verified and his findings published if this spider proves to be biologically different from the known species of Cyclosa.
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pieces of trees and other plant life that are on the ground in the rainforest
scientific term for a group of animals with the same characteristics
something made to look like something else as a form of protection or as trap
- leg-like appendages
parts of the structure that look like legs
- heavy predatory influence
strong response to the danger caused by creatures that want to eat it
- an intriguing defence
a fascinating way of protecting itself
research and its conclusions