New spider species given name of Jon Snow’s dire wolf in Game of Thrones

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© M. Jocque

© S. Wellens

In north-western Madagascar, biologists from the association BINCO (Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation) & AfricaMuseum discovered a remarkable white wolf spider.

Because of its exceptionally bright white appearance, it received the scientific name Ocyale ghost, which also refers to Jon Snow’s white dire wolf 'Ghost', from the popular TV series Game of Thrones.

It is one of Madagascar's largest wolf spiders and has only been found on white sandy beaches of small inland lakes. Its limited distribution makes the species particularly vulnerable.

The Ocyale genus belongs to the wolf spider family (Lycosidae). Prior to the discovery, there were 12 known Ocyale species, of which five came from the Afrotropical region. Ocyale ghost is the first spider of its genus to be photographed alive.

BINCO helps governments and nature conservation organisations to map out biodiversity, and focuses on remote areas. The AfricaMuseum has a long tradition in studying African spiders, with museum scientists having described almost 1,000 spider species.

This spider was described in the European Journal of Taxonomy by six scientists from Belgian, English and Malagasy institutions, in the article ‘A new species of Ocyale (Araneae, Lycosidae) from Madagascar, with first observations on the biology of a representative in the genus’.

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