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3080 Tervuren - Belgium
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Treasure of the month

Fossil spider

Scientific name: Garcorops jadis Bosselaers 2004
Geographic origin: uncertain. The piece of copal in which the spider is found, was discovered in layers of sand near Sambava in the north-east of Madagascar.
Dimensions of the copal: 70 x 20 x 12 mm

This spider in a piece op copal from Madagascar is the first holotype in copal the RMCA has received. A holotype is extremely important because it is used to describe a new species and becomes the standard-bearer of the new name.

Copal is a natural type of resin of a relatively recent date, rarely older than a few thousand years, unlike amber which is often millions of years old. Apart from the spider, the copal also contains a mite, a cockroach and winged insects. For various reasons it is difficult to date copal, but this specimen is probably between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand years old.

The spider in the copal was described by Jan Bosselaers, scientific collaborator of the RMCA. He gave it the specific name Garcorops jadis. It is a male with a yellow-brown body measuring approximately 6.5 mm.

This species belongs to the Selenopidae family (tropical flat spiders or ‘flatties’). They all have a flattened body and eight eyes arranged in two rows. Tropical “flatties” are fairly large, very fast-moving hunting spiders, which hide behind bark or under stones during the daytime. Apart from the species that live in houses, they are very shy and mainly nocturnal, and thus rarely caught.

On the basis of accurate observations and measurements, Dr. Jan Bosselaers was able to make a perfect reconstruction of this Garcorops jadis spider. He suspects that this fossil spider might well belong to an extant species, given the similarities to other types of Garcorops and the recent date of the resin.

For further information about this unique specimen: Magnolia Press Zootaxa 244, 2004 – pdf
Garcorops jadis



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