The staff at Zoo Miami helped discover a brand new species of large spider in the critically endangered Pine Rockland forest surrounding the zoo.
The Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider is a large spider scientifically known as Ummidia Richmond. It was first found by a zookeeper who was checking reptile research traps back in 2012. According to a Facebook post from Zoo Miami, the zookeeper shared a photo of the spider with the zoo’s Conservation and Research Department for identification, however, it didn’t match any existing records for known species in the region. It wasn’t until two years later, that another spider was found in the exact same area and was handed over to experts for evaluation.
Zoo Miami Conservation & Veterinary Services Manager Frank Ridgley explained to WFLA News:
“The fact that a new species like this could be found in a fragment of endangered forest in the middle of the city underscores the importance of preserving these ecosystems before we lose not only what we know, but also what is still to be discovered. Venoms of related species have been found to contain compounds with potential use as pain medications and cancer treatments.”
As of today, the species has not been documented for 35 years anywhere else except the Pine Rockland area around Zoo Miami. The zoo’s staff said they have found a handful of males through the years but no female of the species has been found yet.