Pelican Spiders

Nikolai Scharff
January 11, 2018
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Male pelican spider
Nikolai Scharff

An adult male of Eriauchenius workmani. Wood redescribed this species as part of her research. This species was the first living pelican spider found in the forests of Madagascar after being known only from fossils. Later, many more living species were found in Madagascar, South Africa and Australia. Today’s pelican spiders are “living fossils,” Wood says—remarkably similar to species found preserved in the fossil record from as long as 165 million years ago. Because the living spiders were found after their ancestors had been uncovered in the fossil record and presumed extinct, they can be considered a “Lazarus” taxon.

Photo by Nikolai Scharff