Scientists have found a fascinating new discovery in the spider world, 18 new species of an assassin spider that biologists once thought was extinct.
The archaeid spider, also called the "pelican spider," due to its uncanny resemblance to the bird, was first discovered in the mid 1800's, preserved in amber from millions of years earlier.
A few decades later, the oddly-shaped cannibalistic spiders were were found alive, impaling and chomping on other spiders, but only in the forests of Madagascar, Australia, and South Africa.
Ever since, biologists have been fascinated by the elongated jaws of the "living fossil," which give it the appearance of having a head and neck, as well as the ability to mortally stab its eight-legged prey with its spiky appendages, and then to hold out the victim until the spider dies, preventing any bites to the pelican spider.
Lead researcher Hannah Wood granted Oklahoma's News 4 access to the pictures of archaeid spiders she has studied at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where she works as the curator of arachnids and myriapods.
Wood and her team also traveled to remote areas of Madagascar, trudging through forests, collecting, identifying, and categorizing hundreds of archaeid spiders, which led to the discovery of the 18 new species.
"I think there's going to be a lot more species that haven't yet been described or documented," Wood said in a statement.
However, their livelihood on the island of Madagascar is threatened by mass deforestation.
Wood's research was recently published in the journal Zookeys and details the dispersion of the archaeid spider as Earth's supercontinent Pangaea broke up 175 million years earlier.
The spiders Wood collected will join the U.S. National Entomological Collection at the Smithsonian, where they will be observed by scientists worldwide.