|Cave fauna 5 - Liphistius
There are several species of Liphistius spiders in Malaysia. 5 of those are cave dwelling, Liphistius batuensis, L. kanthan, L. langkawi, L. panching, & L. tempurung. Of these 5, 2 were officially named at the end of 1997. They are Liphistius kanthan Platnick, 1997 and L. tempurung Platnick, 1997 and were found in Gua Kanthan and Gua Tempurung in Perak. Liphistius tioman is not included as a cave dweller as it was found in granite boulders. There is also one as yet unidentified Liphistius in Kelantan.
The Liphistius are trapdoor spiders and can be described as living fossils, because unlike present day spiders, they have segmented abdomens. They possibly date back to the Carboniferous (360-286 mya) period, as some members of the Liphistiidae family were known to exist 290 mya. Today the genus Liphistius are only found in tropical south east Asia. The Liphistius has even been mentioned in the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records for being the most elusive of all spiders.
The Liphistius builds its nest on the cave wall or floor and camouflages it with mud and dirt. The front door of the nest is a trapdoor with 6-8 signal threads or trip wires radiating out. The spider waits with one leg on each thread, and if prey trips the wire, the spider rushes out, catches the victim and runs home slamming the door. If however the prey turns out to be an enemy, the spider can escape by means of a back door.
After mating the female hangs an egg sac below her nest. The juveniles leave this sac and make their own nests (Price 1998d).
The first 8 photos were taken in Dark Cave, at Batu Caves, Selangor -
Liphistius batuensis, feet visible on each tripwire
same, but no feet visible
a trapdoor on the wall
another nest on wall
I've never managed to take any good photos of the actual spider
on wall, Dark Cave
The following Liphistius are from Perak. See more on Liphistius kanthan.
L kanthan nest & cricket
L tempurung in Gua Cicak, well camouflagued
L. kanthan 2 nests side by side
A nonscientific note - trapdoor spiders made several appearances in the 2002 David Arquette film
Eight Legged Freaks.
BULLOCK, J.A. (1966) The fauna of Pulau Tioman, 9. Introductory report on the terrestrial Arthropods. Bull. Nat. Mus. S'pore, p104-128.
PLATNICK, Norman I; SCHWENDINGER, Peter J, & STEINER, Helmut (1997) Three new species of the spider genus Liphistius (Araneae, Mesothelae) from Malaysia. American Museum Novitates (New York), No 3209, 13pp.
PLATNICK, N.I. & SEDGEWICK, W.C. (1984) A revision of the spider genus Liphistius (Araneae, Mesothelae). American Museum Novitates, (New York), No 2781, 31pp.
All images are copyright © Liz Price
© Liz Price 2008 - 2011
Page last updated 22 Nov 2011