Welcome the Smeagol harvestman recently discovered in Brazil, a spider-like critter dwelling deep in the limestone caves of the Monjo, Minas Gerais region.
The exciting new finding is not a hobbit gone astray. Smeagol or the Iandumoema smeagol as the new species is scientifically titled belongs to the harvestman family or daddy longlegs as they’re popularly known.
The Smeagol harvestmen, playfully reminding of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga resembles its namesake quite a bit. Pale and with advanced depigmentation due to poor or no light conditions in the depth of the caves where it dwells, the new species is now a welcome addition to the over 6,500 species in the harvestman family.
Christopher Buddle with McGill University, Canada stated that the new species’ name is accurately describing the harvestman’s biology. With specific traits reminiscent of its natural, dark habitat, the pale yellow Iandumoema smeagol is secluded to the caves of the Minas Gerais region in southeastern Brazil. Its habitat is not protected in any way and is rather secluded. Against this background, the biologists responsible for the discovery warn that the new species might be prone to extinction as it may not spread to other areas.
Harvestman species are also known as daddy longlegs. The spider-like critters with extremely elongated legs lurking in our backyards from spring throughout late autumn are part of the large Opiliones order. Rather than being related to spiders which they resemble, they are more akin to the scorpions of the Scorpionida family or the camel spiders of the Solifugae family.
Like other harvestman species, Iandumoema smeagol is blind, and it has a fused body with long legs. It is a scavenger and omnivore. However, it isn’t dangerous to people as it lacks the venom linked to threats.
As scientists welcome the Smeagol harvestman recently discovered in Brazil, they explained in their paper that it is also the only species in the genus which is blind. That is a vivid instance of troglomorphism as a result of evolution in dark places such as caves.
Photo Credits: Sciencedaily