New 'Monster' Daddy Longlegs Discovered in Oregon

Starrett et al. via ZooKeys
Starrett et al. via ZooKeys / Starrett et al. via ZooKeys

Don't let the name fool you: this newly discovered species of arachnid is not the monster it pretends to be. In an article recently published in the journal ZooKeys, scientists from the University of California Riverside and San Diego State University reveal the discovery of Cryptomaster behemoth—a "new monster" from southwestern Oregon. While larger than most arachnids in its suborder, the so-called behemoth is only about four to five millimeters long.

The species in the daddy longlegs order (Opiliones) are arachnids, not spiders. The researchers told CNN that Cryptomaster behemoth is not a threat to humans. Until this discovery, reports there was only one other known species in the genus, Cryptomaster leviathan. The team was able to tell the two apart by comparing DNA strands and locating differences in their genes. "If you were to hold the two in your hand, you might not be able to tell them apart," lead researcher James Starrett told CNN. 

The discovery has given scientists hope that other species of arachnids are waiting to be discovered in the region. In the paper, they call southern Oregon a "hotspot for endemic animal species." 

A. Male Cryptomaster leviathan, B. Holotype male Cryptomaster behemoth, C. Female Crytomaster leviathan, D. Allotype female Cryptomaster behemoth. Image credit: Starett et al. via ZooKeys

[h/t CNN]