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Spiders of the Sea – Picnogonids

May 13, 2013

Originally posted on Deepwater Canyons:

entire pycnogonid

One of the pycnogonids collected in the trawl.
Image courtesy of Liz Baird, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS

A question from Zach came through the blog recently, asking about the coolest animal we have brought up so far. Pycnogonids, or sea spiders, was the answer, and after learning more about them, an entire post on these extraordinary creatures was due.

These “sea spiders” are found all over the world, from shallow water reefs in the tropics to these deep areas of the canyons. They range in size from about a third of an inch to 35 inches.  Although they are arthropods, they aren’t truly spiders, and there is debate where they should be classified. There is some thought that they are an ancient sister group to all living arthropods.  Pycnogonid means “thick knees” and they certainly have obvious joints along their legs. When they walk, the resemblance to spiders is…

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