Survival is the first priority of any and all the species on this earth.In order to achieve this, various creatures adopt different methods and camouflage.
Recently a new species of spider was accidentally discovered in the Yunnan rain forests of China. An arachnologist, Matjaz Kuntner (Evolutionary Zoology, Smithsonian Institute, Scientific Research center of Slovenian Academy of Science), while looking for something else, noticed a spider silk thread. There was no web or spider, but the silk thread attached a half-dried looking leaf to the tree branch. On careful observation it was found that it was not a leaf but a spider mimicking a leaf.
There were a few dried and half dried leaves of the tree around this female spider (Pictures A, B, and C). This indicates that the female spider carried the dried leaves from the forest floor to the tree branch, to camouflage its presence. This masquerading could be for two reasons: for hiding from predators as well as fooling their prey into thinking that it is just a harmless leaf.
These are orb web spiders and belong to the genus Poltys. This particular species is yet undescribed. Because of its perfect masquerade, it is very difficult to find more specimens of this species and take the studies further.
The ventral part of this female spider resembles a dried leaf while the dorsal part looks like a green leaf, complete with lines resembling venation on a leaf. (Pictures E and F respectively). There is a hairy abdominal extension, brownish in color, which looks like the pedicel of a leaf.
The scientists speculated that the spider actually lifted the dried leaves from the forest floor and carried it around 2.5 meters up to the branch to create a camouflage. The female spider had used its silk to attach the leaves to the branch, thus creating a perfect hiding place. Few other spider species are know to carry tree leaves; but this is the first time a spider was found to stick leaves together to manipulate its surroundings so that its presence would go unnoticed.
So in this spider species, both morphological as well as behavioral adaptations are seen very clearly. A few species of spiders exhibit masquerade where the creatures (arachnids) resemble twigs, flowers, debris, fruits etc. This newly found species has adapted morphologically to blend with its surroundings. But what is unusual and very rarely found, is the behavioral adaptation, where the arachnid gathers and sticks the leaves to create a hiding place…..to deceive its predators and fool its prey.
Reference: The Paper published in The Journal of Arachnology; Nov 2016 by Dr. Matjaz Kuntner et al.