A new eyeless species of daddy longlegs has been discovered in Brazil. This spider-like being is so frightening that it has been named after Smeagol*, the Lord of the Rings character also referred to as Gollum. I encourage arachnophobes to abort now; these things could end up in your nightmares!
The Iandumoema smeagol is a “daddy longlegs” or harvestman arachnid that lives underground for the entirety of its life.Harvestmen are spider-like arachnids that are pretty small in comparison to the average spider, and they only have one main body section, according to Gazette Union.
The spiders never leave the dark, and they are only one of two harvestmen species that lack eyes. Like the character it was named after, Smeagol, the new daddy longlegs species is pale in color and prefers to live in underground caves with a water source.
Because the species has lived in total darkness for generations, Smeagol underwent many adaptations in which it lost its eyes and most of its melanin. These adaptations led to an inability to travel beyond the cave and may have led them to extinction.
Researchers from the Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo and the Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar) said that both juvenile and adult arachnids were observed in a humid cave in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, according to UPI. They added that the adults were more sedentary whereas the juveniles were more active. A total of 14 of the spindly-legged arachnids were observed in the area.
These recent findings were published in the journal ZooKeys. The journal contains a report that details the species and says that it “is vulnerable and it must be considered in future conservation projects.”
According to Ricardo Pinto-da-Rocha and his fellow scientists, the area where the spiders reside is not very protected and is threatened by limestone and logging extraction, Fox News reported. In an effort to establish a conservation policy like the ZooKeys report suggests, the researchers called for long-term studies on the biology of Iandumoema smeagol and on the population. The studies could also help protect the area surrounding the caves.
Are you freaked out? Don’t be. They’ve only found 14; little Gollums won’t be creeping around your house anytime soon. Plus, we should always celebrate the discovery of a new species–even if it’s a little scary.
*The fictional character Smeagol appears in the stories by J. R. R. Tolkein, which included The Lord of the Rings. Smeagol was corrupted by the One Ring and soon became referred to as Gollum. Gollum is a cave dweller known for his pale skin, horrid swallowing noise and huge, bulging eyes.