New species of spider and snake discovered in Cyprus
A NEW species of spider and of snake have been discovered at opposite ends of the island, in the Beşparmak Mountains and near Paphos.
The tiny spider Harpactea günselorum was found during a Near East University North Cyprus Spiders Survey project with Ege University and the Wildlife Research Institute and named for the university founder Suat Günsel. News published in the Arachnological Bulletin of the Middle East and North Africa advised that the discovery documented male and female specimens of a new species of the genus Harpactea Bristowe.
NEU Professor Salih Gücel said: “It’s unique to Cyprus and abundant in Beşparmak. Mostly endemic to smaller regions of the Mediterranean and hot climates, this type of spider hunts on the ground at night and does not build webs.”
He added that although not poisonous to humans, the spider did use venom on its insect prey and had been found in forested and bushland areas. Inquiries to colleagues in the South would help discover its range.
Paphos-based Hans Jorg Wiedl, known to all as “Snake George”, also discovered a tiny species of snake this week which was reported to him by a British couple in Peyia.
The 75-year-old Austrian expert hopes to prove that the thin, 11cm black-headed dwarf snake is an endemic sub-species of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus or even a new species.
The tiny snake resembles one from Israel and others found in Turkey and Syria, but with differences in colour and markings, and is very delicate to handle.
Mr Wiedl had waited five years for another sighting after two previous reports, one of them by a British tourist who had released the snake before he could inspect it.
The resident herpetologist has already rediscovered the Cyprus grass snake and proved that bluntnosed vipers lay eggs and not live young as previously thought.
He hopes a scientist will begin research and send DNA samples to Israel to verify his find and may be contacted on (00357) 99 987685.