There are exactly four things you must know about Trogloraptor marchingtoni, the newly identified variety of cave spider pictured here.
One: Trogloraptor is big. Not tarantula big, but big enough to rend from your lungs the kind of scream you don't realize you're capable of making until you're caught off-guard by a creeptastic-looking spider. Based on measurements published in the latest issue of the journal ZooKeys, that translates to a maximum size of about three inches across, when Trogloraptor's spindly limbs are fully extended.
"For a spider, this is a pretty big one," explained Charles Griswold, first author on the paper describing the animal, according to The Telegraph. "In the torchlight it can look even bigger." [Click here for a hi-res view of the image up top]
Two: Each of Trogloraptor's legs tapers to a very dramatic-looking, scythe-like claw, except (unlike a scythe) Trogloraptor's claws are barbed:
Three: In discovering Trogloraptor, scientists have established a new species ( T. marchingtoni), genus (Trogloraptor) and family (Trogloraptoridae) of spider, making it an incredibly rare find. According to Griswold, only two other spider families have been identified since 1990, and the last family of native spiders to be discovered in North America was identified in 1890 (Trogloraptor was discovered creeping around the caves of Oregon).
Four: There are roughly 3,700 genera of spiders, but Trogloraptor is probably one of the most awesomely named, due in no small part to inclusion of the word "raptor". It translates to "cave robber," because of course something this nefarious-looking would live in a cave and steal things. That being said, researchers actually aren't entirely sure if this creature is really a thief or not, as Griswold and his colleagues have never actually witnessed it eat or catch its prey. The leading hypothesis, however, is that Trogloraptor hunts by suspending itself from strings of silk and using its legs like hooks to pluck up unsuspecting victims.
The researchers' findings are published in the latest issue of ZooKeys.
All images by Griswold et al.