Spiders in Borneo – More Hispo at Lambir

One big piece of news from Lambir is that we found more Hispo. I previously posted, with great excitement, the news that Edy had found a Hispo female in Mulu. I’m pretty certain it represents a species new to science, but even more exciting, it is the first adult hisponine anyone has found east of India. Well, at Lambir she found the male of the species, the first male hisponine known outside of Africa and Indian Ocean islands. Here’s the male — it looks pretty much like the female.



Male of a Hispo species, new to science

Fred Wanless, the last to publish studies of Hispo, noted that the Asian species are quite distinct from the African ones, but since no male specimens were known from Asia, he couldn’t make any firm conclusions. Structures specific to males are especially helpful in determining spider relationships. Associated structures in females are harder to study and interpret, and so are not as well understood. Now that we have found a male from Asia, we can finally understand the Asian Hispo species and whether they might in fact be an evolutionary lineage distinct from the African Hispo.

But, it didn’t stop there. I found a second species, apparently the species known from Sumatra, Hispo alboguttata. The Sumatran specimen is immature, as, alas, are the two specimens I found. One is photographed here. She’s a beauty.




Immature specimen, probably Hispo alboguttata

Both Edy’s species and Hispo alboguttata were found on tree trunks. We looked at many tree trunks, but found only these few specimens. Even though we found no adults of H. alboguttata, it’s still invaluable to have these fresh specimens for study. And now, we think we have broken the mystique of Asian Hispo. With our observations on location and habitat, we think it will now be possible for other biologists to find more.

Originally published at Scientific American, Wayne Maddison’s Spiders in Borneo Series