Science Great Fox Spider Assumed Extinct in UK Found at British Army Training Area After 27 Years

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One of Britain's largest spiders, the Great Fox Spider, once thought to have gone extinct, has been spotted for the first time after 27 years at a Ministry of Defence training ground in Surrey. After being untraceable for more than a quarter of a century in the UK, finally this year the conservationists report the sighting of 22 Great Fox Spiders, including mature males and one mature female. This species is a night-time hunter, and known for its speed and agility as well as eight eyes.

The critically endangered Great Fox Spider was assumed extinct in the UK after the last one was spotted in Surrey's Hankley Common in 1993. But Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust finally found the long-lost spider species after two years of trawling around after dark looking for it on the military site in Surrey.

As per the Surrey Wildlife Trust, this species has excellent eyesight, camouflage, and speed. The species, which is an opportunistic predator that hunts at night, is named for its fox-like characteristic of chasing down prey across sandy terrain, and rocks before pouncing, then capturing it on the run that includes insects like beetles, ants, and smaller spiders.

The prey is immobilized after the Great Fox Spider injects it with venom and then the internal organs of the prey liquefy. Once all these are done, the spider uses its strong, fang-bearing front appendages called chelicerae to feast on its catch.

Waite never gave up hope to find the long-lost species. He found the specimens on MOD land, which is managed by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. He said that the Great Fox Spider is at the very edge of its range in the UK, which accounts for its super rarity here. "This formidable-looking creature is an impressive beast, perfectly camouflaged and also largely nocturnal, and for all its size it has been remarkably elusive," he added.


Read more here. (International Business Times)
 
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