Not quite paying attention on the beach

No, this is not a post about undertow or getting sand thrown in my eyes. It’s about Habronattus. In an earlier post, I hinted that I was not that excited by finding Habronattus contingens in Puerto Vallarta, as there is a very similar species in Canada. This is what those H. contingens from Puerto Vallarta looked like. Note the creamy white face and fluffy front leg (Update: better photo of face added).
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We wanted to explore beaches down here, near Chamela, and so yesterday entomologist Enrique Ramirez guided us to a well-preserved beach with student Alejandro Estrada. Here are Enrique, Alejandro, and me at the beach. Note that when I speak of a “well-preserved beach” I’m not talking about the relatively sterile sand. I’m speaking of its richness beyond the sand, like the beautiful tree-sized cacti.
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At the beach, I was mostly interested in finding out whether H. aztecanus lived this far south. I was finding what I thought was H. contingens, but I wasn’t that interested in them, so I wasn’t paying close attention and we only collected a couple. When we got back from the beach I got out the hand lens and was shocked to look at their faces — they seem to be something quite different! Their faces are black, not white, and overall they are much darker than H. contingens. Are they a new, separate species, or are they just a strong geographic variant of H. contingens? Tomorrow we are going to another beach, and this time I will pay attention to this strange thing related to H. contingens!blackCfContingensIMGP9350

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