Friday, 27 September 2013

Not the weakest lynx

In fact, not a lynx at all, but a lynx spider, Oxyopes (probably O. macilentus). I was going to write a poem about it, but the first rhymes that came to mind were minx, finks and Jar Jar Binks, a group of words that should never be seen together ever again.

If we were to rank spiders according cuteness — something that zoologists would not do, of course — lynx spiders (Oxyopidae) would come second only to jumping spiders (Salticidae). If you have any doubts about that, browse the photos on Arachne, a web site dedicated to Australian spiders. Here's Oxyopidae (and here's O. macilentus) versus Salticidae. (I'm not sure what family would appear at the bottom of that table. Even woodlouse-hunting spiders have their own peculiar charm.)

Lynx spiders are abundant on low vegetation. They do not build prey-catching webs, but stalk their prey over short distances. (Although the distances might seem much longer to the spider.)

This species was described by German arachnologist and physician Ludwig Koch in 1878 in Die Arachniden Australiens. If your German is up to scratch, you can read the original description here, courtesy of the Australasian Arachnological Society. The description appears on pp 1000 – 1002 and plate LXXXVII.


sarala said...

What I like about this spider is it doesn't look all that spidery. There are some beautiful spiders out there but they also encompass some of the ugliest creatures on earth (IMHO). Lovely photo. As always I enjoy your blog and getting to know your Australian wildlife--so different from what we see here in the northern hemisphere.

Snail said...

That lynx spider is a particularly handsome one!