Smeagol is now the name of a blind daddy long-legs spider

When you think of spiders and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe, you will most likely think of Shelob and her light-eating eight-legged kin. Or some other unspeakable horror among the list of Middle Earths creatures. The last thing you'll think of, however, is the man, or "hobbit", that would later be infamously known as Gollum. And yet that is exactly what discoverers Ricardo Pinto-da-Rocha at the University of São Paulo and researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos named this pale and blind spider: Iandumoema smeagol.

Smeagol is a new specie of harvestmen, more popularly known as "daddy long-legs", This type of spider is particularly known for a single body instead of the usual segmented ones found in most arachnids. Male harvestmen are also notable for actually having penises.

Of course, Iandumoema smeagol is quite distinct from its cousins, both in appearance as well as features. For one, a smeagol is actually blind, which is quite ironic (or tragic, if you want) if you think really hard about it. These spiders also never, or almost never, surface to the ground, which is why they have devolved into losing their sight. They are also extremely pale because of it. Perhaps Gollum would have been a better namesake.

It isn't yet known how many spiders of this kind there are. Only fourteen have so far been observed, clinging to wet cave walls and staying close to streams, where they can have their fill of invertebrate food. Even just newly discovered, the spiders might already be under threat from human activity that affect the water supply as well as rock formation in nearby areas, like mining for limestone in caves where they dwell or the installation of hydroelectric dams on streams that bring their food supply.

SOURCE: Pensoft

VIA: New Scientist