Discovering new species of invertebrates: spiders, millipedes, pseudoscorpions


LiocranoidesDr. Marc Milne, UIndy assistant professor of biology, traveled to northern Alabama with undergraduate biology student Tyler Smith in November for an exploration of four caves in an attempt to discover unknown invertebrates. They were joined by two University of Florida faculty and a UF graduate student. For three days, the five researchers visited the rarely searched caves in northern Alabama and collected spiders, millipedes, and pseudoscorpions—tiny, scorpion-looking invertebrates that lack the classic scorpion tail. After they returned to their respective institutions, the real work began. Milne identified all collected spiders; he sent the pseudoscorpions to a pseudoscorpion expert and graduate student at Auburn University; and he forwarded the millipedes to a graduate student and professor at Virginia Tech University. Dr. Milne soon found that one of the spiders they had collected belonged to the genus Liocranoides (pictured) and was a species new to science. Meanwhile, the pseudoscorpion turned out to be a new species, and also belonged to an undescribed genus—a larger grouping of organisms. And one of the all-white millipedes was determined to be a subspecies unknown to science. The discoveries are being prepared for publication in various academic journals. The explorations are continuing this summer. Several of the scientists will search more caves in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. UIndy’s Milne will be one of a scientific tandem traveling to the longest cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, in August to search for and collect more unknown invertebrates.