While sorting through a collection of arachnids in South Africa, researchers recently discovered a unique eight-legged critter.
The experts were searching for details about the genus Festucula, a type of jumping spider, according to a study published Dec. 1 in the scientific journal ZooKeys. That’s when they came across one female specimen they didn’t recognize — and realized it was a new species.
Known as Festucula botswana, the spider was collected from the surface of a swamp in Okavango in Botswana, researchers said. It’s named after its country of origin.
The arachnid measures about 0.3 inches long, and its legs range in length from just shy of approximately 0.1 inches to about 0.16 inches, the study said. Scientists distinguished the new species from other similar species by its uniquely shaped glands.
Researchers said they discovered the Festucula botswana specimen after it had already been preserved in alcohol, so they could only provide descriptions of its color after preservation.
In alcohol, the creature has a brown body with light brown bands, the study said. Its eye area is brown with dark patches, and it has a black patch around its multiple sets of eyes.
The spiders have mostly yellow legs, and photos show that some regions have short, hair-like bristles, according to scientists. The new species’ chelicerae and palps, which it uses to feed, are brownish yellow.
The Okavango Delta is an “inland delta” in northwestern Botswana, according to UNESCO. The region includes swampland and “seasonally flooded grassland.” It is a rare inland delta system that does not have an outlet to the sea, instead draining into the Kalahari Basin’s desert.
A range of wildlife inhabits the delta, including “some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion,” according to UNESCO.