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Rare spider thought extinct in the UK rediscovered at military base

After more than 27 years of being off the radar in Britain, the great fox-spider has recently been rediscovered on an undeveloped portion of a military base in Surrey, England.

Great fox-spiders (Alopecosa fabrilis) are critically endangered and were feared to be extinct in the UK before a program manager at the Surrey Wildlife Trust discovered the arachnid on a Ministry of Defence training ground.

“It’s a gorgeous spider if you’re into that kind of thing,” said the program manager, Mike Waite, who used aerial photography of the military base to find bare patches where the spiders like to hunt. After many fruitless nights, Waite finally came across several male spiders, one female, and possibly some immature spiderlings.

The elusive eight-eyed species, measuring up to two inches in length, belongs to the wolf spider family of arachnids that hunts down its prey rather than building webs. The spiders are also nocturnal hunters and their gray-and-brown furry bodies make for great camouflage, which makes them quite difficult to spot.

Though critically endangered, the great fox-spiders can be found on the European mainland, particularly on coastal sand dunes in the Netherlands and Denmark.

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