December 2021 Spider of the Month

December’s spider of the month (SOTM) is this crowned lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.; Oxyopidae), taken by Robert Wienand.

There are nine genera in the world, but only three genera in South Africa, namely the grass lynx spiders (Oxyopes), green lynx spiders (Peucetia), and the crowned lynx spiders (Hamataliwa). They are free-living spiders, mostly found on plants, and ambush, stalk, or chase down their prey, using their superior sight – Oxyopidae means “sharp eyed”, derived from the Greek oxús (sharp) and ṓps (eye). They also have very long spines on their legs, which they use to hold on to prey.

When I asked Robert to tell me more about this find, he had this to say:

“I had some work at one of the Sabi Sands lodges and arrived in the area early, as it is always my intention to spend some time looking for spiders (more specifically, jumping spiders). I decided to pop in to Sabiepark first, which is a private wildlife estate. While scouring the public swimming pool area, my eye caught something sitting on the concrete ball marking the start of the pathway. In the sunlight it seemed to have a silver sheen and my immediate reaction was that I had just found an unusual jumping spider. However, as I looked closer I noticed the legs positioned like that of a typical lynx spider, and also realised the eyes were not those of a jumping spider. Nevertheless, I was totally intrigued by this spider and somewhat amazed that a lynx spider would be sitting right out in the open on a concrete ball. Not knowing whether this was something unusual or not, I quickly sent out a couple of cellphone photos on a spider group. It did not take long for several people to react with interest and surprise. I considered myself very lucky to see this spider, but only realised just how special this find was when photos were posted on The Spider Club of Southern Africa Facebook page and the resulting comments. It didn’t end there. I sent good friend Vida van der Walt my photos and she in return forwarded them on to Ansie Dippenaar who responded that she had never seen this species before. How wonderful to have a lady of Ansie’s stature and experience to say that she had never seen this species before. Very exciting and a real privilege to have found and been able to photograph this beautiful male crowned lynx spider and to have been able to share it with you all.”