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Treasure of the month

Spider named after our director

This spider from Mount Nimba in West Africa was named after Guido Gryseels, director-general of the RMCA. Together with 7 other new spider species, it was described by Arnaud Henrard and Rudy Jocqué (Invertebrates service). Their discovery confirms the importance of the region in terms of biodiversity.

When naming new species, scientists are relatively free in the choice of name. This opportunity may hence be used to honour colleagues, friends, lovers, or celebrities.

‘When searching for names, I had the idea of honouring Guido Gryseels, for his support of biology research at the museum’, says Arnaud Henrard. ‘I shared my idea with my colleague Rudy Jocqué and he was very enthusiastic about it. That’s how we came to call one of the new spider species Piloctenus gryseelsi’.

Another species was named after Didier Van den Spiegel, who headed the museum’s Mt. Nimba expeditions in 2008, 2010 and 2011. This species was named Macroctenus vandenspiegeli.

Mount Nimba, a biodiversity hotspot

Straddling the borders of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia, Mount Nimba is the highest point in West Africa (1,752 m). Its slopes are covered in dense forest and its peaks in grasslands. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it harbours enormous ecological wealth.

The study of Arnaud Henrard and Rudy Jocqué confirms that Mount Nimba is home to an enormous biodiversity and that many species living there are endemic, i.e. they are not found anywhere else. ‘Regarding the spider family we studied (Ctenidae), our study found that Mount Nimba is the most species-rich area in West Africa, with at least 22 species’, says Arnaud.

The authors published their findings in an article published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society on 28 October 2016.

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