If you were a spider, with a tiny brain, would you know what you look like? In “damn this is scary” news, a scientist has discovered a potential new species of spider in Peru that creates a decoy of itself, places it on its web, and even wiggles its legs around to make it look alive. Best of all: it’s got eight legs, as spiders should. It’s an anatomically reproduction of itself, one which is made from dead insects, debris and leaves. Discovered by biologist and science educator Phil Torres in the Peruvian amazon, it is thought that the spider could belong to the genus of spiders called Cyclosa. These have been observed in the past building similar decoys, but none that are anatomically correct and certainly none that shake the web to mimic movement. It’s believed they make them to confuse and perhaps scare away their prey. Certainly in this new case, the decoy was much larger than the spider that built it, perhaps with the goal of making prey think that the spider that lives there is larger than it really is.
Torres, fascinated by the find, contacted “arachnologist Linda Rayor of Cornell University who confirmed the find was unusual.” Final confirmation of whether this is a completely new species, or just new previously-unreported behavior from Cyclosa, will require close anatomical observation. Since Torres didn’t have the required permits to take a sample, this will have to wait until January, when he plans to return.