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”

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:

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”

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:

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.


2 thoughts on “Two undescribed Habronattus from Chamela

  1. The AME eye tubes and retinae should be checked out. I expected that when courting, however, these spiders are seldom facing directly into the sunlight in a manner that would reveal this kind of ‘retinogram’ at the plane of the patellae. Bright illumination along the axis of the eye tube should be an exception, but staring directly into the sun would probably be as useless and dysfunctional to a salticid as it is to us. But, anything is possible here. This may have something to do with magnification within the eye tube as well.

    • The lighting that highlights this eye pattern doesn’t come from the front through the lens; the light comes through the pale patches on the thorax. Thus, the eye pattern is backlit when viewed through the male’s lens.

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