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It's official, science now knows 50,000 species of spiders

It’s official, science now knows 50,000 species of spiders

Part of the population may have a dread of spiders, but this does not prevent them from playing a fundamental ecological role.

The Natural History Museum in Bern, the Swiss capital, has a tradition of keeping an impressive record called the World Spider Catalog. As its name suggests, its goal is to classify all kinds of spiders that live on Earth. According to AFP, it has just passed a symbolic milestone by being officially registered for the discovery of 50,000 species. Perhaps this is just the beginning!

This number was reached thanks to the discovery of Guurius minuano. This species was discovered by the spider scientist Kimberly S. Marta together with his Brazilian colleagues. It is named after the Minano, a tribe that disappeared from southern Brazil.

It is a jumping spider of the family salicidae. They are especially recognized by the special disposition of their eyes. They have two large central eyes and two small side eyes on the front of the head, but also two small eyes on each side. So they have an exceptionally wide field of view.

Combine that vision with the ability that gave them their name – jumping – and you’ll have formidable predators that can make life difficult for the most elusive insects from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

© Natur Historisches Museum in Bern

50,000 species, many of which are still being discovered

Bern’s Natural History Museum asserts that this catalog of 50,000 entries was not built overnight. The foundation explains that the first documented specimen in the catalog dates back to 1957 – 265 years ago! However, the researchers also say that these 50,000 species are probably only the beginning.

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They estimate that this total includes about half of the extant species. This means that there is at least a lot left to discover, for a total of more than 100,000 distinct species. Suffice it to say, anthropologists still need their work!

But contrary to what one might instinctively imagine, this goal is not unattainable. And for good reason. According to Swiss researchers, the rate of discovery of new species has been steadily increasing. According to AFP, researchers estimate that it will take “less than 100 years” to supply the other half of the catalog.

But above all, this fifty thousand is a golden opportunity to try to restore the image of these animals that people often fear and dislike. In fact, even if they tend to elicit amazing reactions, especially in the case of arachnophobia, there is no definite reason to be afraid of them.

© Natur Historisches Museum in Bern

Brave but unpopular environmental soldiers

It starts with the fact that the vast majority of spiders are not venomous enough to kill a human. At the planetary level, only about ten people die every year from a spider bite, and no one in France dies. In addition, in most cases, the victim had an allergic background. For comparison, it is estimated that snakes are responsible for 80,000 to 140,000 deaths each year.

Moreover, the phrase “Little monsters don’t eat big“It also applies to their cause. There are simply no species of spiders that consider humans as prey; this means that they will never, under any pretext, seek to actively attack a human. They will only do so as a defensive response.”

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Finally, researchers also take the opportunity to remind us that our eight-legged friends are very important players in our ecosystems. “Spiders are among the most important predators of terrestrial habitats, and their ecological importance should not be underestimated.‘, says the museum.

The enterprise estimates that they will consumeBetween 400 and 800 million tons of insects annually“, making him the first insect regulator on a planetary scale. Indirectly, this environmental policeman’s role means that they too”Of fundamental importance to humansThere are many reasons why we should consider a few of these unloved eight-legged ones!