Two undescribed Habronattus from Chamela

Back in 1998 when I was last in Chamela, we found two species of Habronattus that were new to science. They are still new, which is to say, we haven’t gotten around to describing them yet formally and giving them proper scientific names. They are two of my biggest targets on this trip, and I’m happy to report that despite it being the middle of the dry season, we’ve found adults of both.

Habronattus “ROBRT”
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The first was given a code name ROBRT in my paper with Marshal Hedin on molecular phylogeny of Habronattus. It’s a species that seems unclear whether it wants to be in the viridipes group (erect scales between the posterior eyes, courtship behaviour) or the clypeatus group (black central stripe under the abdomen, backward triangle marking on abdomen). What has surprised me is that I now see it has the same strange pattern inside the eyes as I recently posted for H. aztecanus of the clypeatus group. Check out the eyes here:
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By the way, in that photo notice the third leg with the bumpy green and red patella. It strikes me that the eye pattern and third leg are usually in focus at the same time when I take the photos. Crazy idea: could the eye pattern actually be a courtship ornament that the male displays to the female in coordination with motions of the third leg?

Habronattus “CHMLA”
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The second undescribed species was give the code name CHMLA by Marshal and me. It’s a sweet little species from forest leaf litter. The face has a cute little pair of stripes that make them look as if they have a rodent-like grin. For the first time I got photos of the female of CHMLA:
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Now that we have both, along with the common H. zapotecanus and H. cambridgei, we have achieved an important goal of this trip: to get fresh specimens of several common Mexican species groups of Habronattus, for future phylogenetic work.

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3 thoughts on “Two undescribed Habronattus from Chamela

  1. What eye pattern? Do you mean the retina? That would be in focus because if the lenses of its eyes i assume – you are in her focus, so her retina is in yours.

    • In the photos you can see a checkerboard pattern in the eyes. I don’t know whether or not it is part of the retina, but if it is, it would only be the peripheral part. When you look straight down into the core of the retina, you see black, as typical with salticids. The checkerboard is off center, in the part of the side of the eyes that is normally honey coloured when you look into the eyes of the salticid with a translucent carapace. As for the focus, the point is not why it is in focus. That part of the eye being in the same focal plane as the third legs may be a general thing for an observer at a reasonable distance in front of any salticid. The crazy idea is that, with that region of the inside of the eye so being in focus, the clypeatus group may have taken advantage of that fact by putting a pattern there as a courtship ornament.

      • And i love the idea! Its like light signalling from a ship (a lens and a point light at the focal point) and it does underline the poetic notion that eyes are windows to the (spiders) soul. Since during courtship one of the important tasks is to find out whether or not the other body carries the “right” genes, and the genes are buried so deep within that body, any kind if window is good! Just a poetic notion, but i love it. If that checkerboard pattern would be highly variable between individuals there might be something to it! I also wondered whether spider stalking species like Portia would not only freeze when being looked at (as some do whan stalking other salticidae), but also do something with their retina to be less obvious.

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