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Large New Species of Harvestman Only the Second in Its Genus

The new harvestman species Cryptomaster behemoth. Photo by Dr. James Starrett. CC-BY 4.0.

Harvestmen are arachnids that are often mistaken for spiders. However, they are not even in the same order — spiders belong to Araneae, while harvestmen belong to Opiliones. In the U.S., harvestmen are often called “daddy-longlegs” and are sometimes mistaken for cellar spiders in the family Pholcidae.

A newly discovered species, however, does not resemble the thin-legged harvestmen that most people see. Known as Cryptomaster behemoth, it belongs to the suborder Laniatores, members of which are characterized by having relatively short legs.

Until now, the only harvestman in the genus Cryptomaster was Cryptomaster leviathan, which got its name from the monster Leviathan which is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. Following the already established naming trend, the new species is called Cryptomaster behemoth after another large monster called Behemoth, which is mentioned in the Book of Job.

Curiously, both Cryptomaster species showed two forms of their species, a smaller and a larger one, but neither form was genetically different enough to suggest the presence of a separate group. The scientists observed the variation in both males and females from across both species and all of their known localities in the mountains of southwest Oregon.

“This research highlights the importance of short-range endemic arachnids for understanding biodiversity and further reveals mountainous southern Oregon as a hotspot for endemic animal species,” wrote the authors of an article that appears in Zookeys that describes the new species.

Read more at:

A new monster from southwest Oregon forests: Cryptomaster behemoth sp. n. (Opiliones, Laniatores, Travunioidea)

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