Biologist and science educator Phil Torres may have discovered a completely new species — a spider that builds detailed replicas of larger spiders to intimidate and confuse potential predators. The spider, currently thought to be a new member of the genus Cyclosa, uses small pieces of leaf, dead insects, and other debris to create fake spiders, complete with legs. Other Cyclosa create decoys using spare egg sacs, but this new spider's sculptures are the first to feature leg-like appendages. Speaking to Wired, Torres said that when he first saw one of the small, 5mm spiders and its decoy on a tour at Peru's Tambopata Research Center, "it blew my mind."
However, the spider is still a long way from being recognized as a new species. First, Torres must go back to the site in January to collect specimens to compare against other species. If this spider turns out to be biologically different than the known species of Cyclosa, then all the information will be published, verified, and Torres' discovery will be officially classified as a new spider species. This spider isn't a legitimate species just yet, but the one behind you probably is.
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