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Tiny Wandering Spider Discovered in Laos

ctenus monoghani
The wandering spider doesn't lure its prey with a web, instead hunting and stinging prey at night. (Image credit: Peter Jäger, Senckenberg)

Scientists have discovered a new spider species in Laos, in Southeast Asia.

The spider, dubbed Ctenus monaghani, was discovered crawling across a researchers path while he was filming a nature documentary called "Wild Things."

The unobtrusive little creature measures just 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) across and is part of a genus of wandering spiders, meaning it catches prey without weaving a web. Instead, wandering spiders typically prowl the jungle floors at night, pounce on unsuspecting prey and deliver a deadly sting.

Southeast Asia is teeming with biodiversity. Scientists have discovered several endangered frog species in Laos in recent years. Southeast Asia is also home to several endangered lizard species, such as the Komodo dragon.

Peter Jäger, an arachnologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, was filming "Wild Things" when he noticed the little spider scurry across his path.

Jäger decided to name the species after Dominic Monaghan, an actor in the movie.

This isn't the only spider that Jäger has discovered while filming his documentary. In 2012, the researcher found the daddy of all daddy longlegs, an arachnid with 13-inch-long (33 centimeters) leg span was found lurking in caves in the country as well. The longest daddy longlegs every found had a leg span of 13.4 inches (34 cm).

And there are likely many more undiscovered spider species in Laos. Scientists estimate that about half of all species haven't been described yet.

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Tia Ghose
Managing Editor

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.