Mexican Spider Uses Dirt for Camouflage

Scientists have discovered a new species of spider from Mexico that possesses unique camouflaging abilities. The new species belongs to the enigmatic family Paratropididae and is described in the journal ZooKeys.

Like all species from this family, the new species — Paratropis tuxtlensis — encrusts its entire body with soil particles. The encrusted soil on the exoskeleton could provide protection from predators or serve as camouflage to deceive their prey. The soil particles are encrusted because these spiders have glandular pores in their cuticles, and their secretions help the soil particles to stick.

An adult female Paratropis tuxtlensis protecting her egg sac. Photo by Jorge I. Mendoza. CC-BY 4.0

These spiders typically don’t make burrows, but instead rely on their camouflage to hide under rocks and in the soil.

“The specimens were collected in tropical rainforest, under boulders on the ground,” explained the authors of the study, Dr. Alejandro Valdez-Mondragón, M. Sc. Jorge I. Mendoza, and Dr. Oscar F. Francke from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. “They remained motionless when they were exposed by removing the rock that provided shelter, possibly as a defense mechanism because the soil particles encrusted on their body cuticles serve as camouflage with the moist ground.”

Read more at:

First record of the mygalomorph spider family Paratropididae (Arachnida, Araneae) in North America with the description of a new species of Paratropis Simon from Mexico, and with new ultramorphological data for the family

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