Cebrennus rechenbergi: Cartwheeling Spider Discovered in Morocco

A newly discovered species of spider, scientifically named Cebrennus rechenbergi, can flip like a gymnast.

The Moroccan flic-flac spider, Cebrennus rechenbergi. Image credit: Ingo Rechenberg.

The Moroccan flic-flac spider, Cebrennus rechenbergi. Image credit: Ingo Rechenberg.

The new species belongs to Sparassidae, a family of spiders known as huntsmen due to their speed and mode of hunting.

Cebrennus rechenbergi is a nocturnal spider native to the Morocco’s southeastern desert, Erg Chebbi.

It has been named after the German expert Prof Ingo Rechenberg of Technische Universität Berlin, who collected live specimen of Cebrennus rechenbergi during an expedition in Morocco. The common name of the species is the Moroccan flic-flac spider.

According to a paper published in the journal Zootaxa (abstract in .pdf), this spider is able to move by means of flic-flac jumps.

“Like a gymnast, it propels itself off the ground, followed by a series of rapid flic-flac movements of its legs,” explained Dr Peter Jäger from Senckenberg Research Institute, who describes Cebrennus rechenbergi in the Zootaxa paper.

“This gives the spider great flexibility – uphill, downhill or on level ground, Cebrennus rechenbergi can move along with ease. It displays this behavior when provoked, e.g., by a congener, a camel spider, a scorpion or a human.”

The flic-flac jumps, at almost 2 m/sec, allow Cebrennus rechenbergi to move twice as fast as in simple walking mode.

Burrow of the Moroccan flic-flac spider, Cebrennus rechenbergi. Image credit: Ingo Rechenberg.

Burrow of the Moroccan flic-flac spider, Cebrennus rechenbergi. Image credit: Ingo Rechenberg.

“With its feelers and specialized, elongated bristles, the spider creates a tube-like domicile in the sand, attached by silk threads, which offers protection from the Sun and predators.”

In the same paper, Dr Jäger describes three other spiders in the genus CebrennusC. atlas from Morocco, C. flagellatus from Afghanistan and C. laurae from Canary Islands.

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Peter Jäger. 2014. Cebrennus Simon, 1880 (Araneae: Sparassidae): a revisionary up-date with the description of four new species and an updated identification key for all species. Zootaxa 3790 (2): 319–356; doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3790.2.4