Shivering for diamonds

There was good news and bad news. The good news: we had found something new and special at Humo Chico, the green ghost Mexigonus jumping spiders. The bad news: we had not found any of our target, the delicate “diamond” jumping spiders. Disappointed, we went to the restaurant along the highway there, thinking to do a quick look before eating lunch. I’d found the diamond Mexigonus in 1983 near where the restaurant now stands, but there had been no restaurant then, and the area in the intervening years had been considerably disturbed by human presence (that was the reason we started instead in the undisturbed habitat along the road to the microwave tower).

As I went to try one last time, I was dripping wet and very chilled, for I’d not brought a jacket. When packing for a trip to Mexico, I had stupidly not imagined the chill of a rainy day at 3000 metres elevation. Just beside the buildings of the restaurant complex, I started beating the moss- and lichen-covered bushes. First beat, two specimens of diamond fell on my sheet. What relief, what satisfaction. They were still incredibly common at that particular spot, despite the degradation of their habitat. We got lots of specimens, including both forms of male I’d seen in 1983. Here is a male with just the first pair of legs black:

Mexigonus “diamond one dark”, male

And here is a male with the first two pairs of legs black:

Mexigonus “diamond two dark”, male

Now we can figure out whether they are Mexigonus, and whether the two forms of males represent different species. (I suspect so.)

In the end it was a very satisfying day at Humo Chico, finding our target diamonds and also new things like the green ghost. Shivering, the first thing I ordered at the restaurant was a hot chocolate.

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