A new species of cave-dwelling spider has been recently described by University of the Philippines Los Banos graduate student Joseph B. Rasalan and Museum of Natural History curator for spiders and moths Dr. Aimee Lynn B. Dupo, the description of which has been published in advance in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity.

Rasalan, a graduate apprentice of Dr. Aimee Lynn B. Dupo is undertaking MS Forestry with forest entomology as focus.

According to the authors, the new spider species Masteria urdujae sp. nov. has been collected under rock debris near the entrance of Pelpel Cave in Brgy. Centro Toma, Bani, Pangasinan during a cave assessment activity by students taking BIO 154 Cave Ecology in 2017.

Spiders of the genus Masteria are part of a small yet moderately diverse group of mygalomorphs--primitive spiders which have retained many of the features possessed by their ancestral relatives. Included in this group are the tarantulas and trapdoor spiders. Masteria urdujae sp. nov, according to the Rasalan and Dupo, looks like a miniature tarantula.

So far, only two other masteriine species have been discovered in the Philippines. These are Masteria caeca and M. cavicola which were originally described 127 years ago from Rizal Province.

The holotype of the new species is represented by a single male specimen deposited in the UPLB MNH Entomological Museum. The spider is named after the legendary Princess Urduja, warrior princess of Kaylukari in Tawalisi, believed to be present-day Pangasinan.

For more details about this discovery, you can check the article online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japb.2019.01.002.


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