20 January 1995 (Daily Telegraph)
Entomologist finds Britain's 640th
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
A SPIDER unknown in Britain has been discovered in a
carpet of quivering moss on a bog in Cheshire by
scientists, Liverpool Museum reported yesterday.
The eight millimetre, black spider lives at Wybunbury
Moss, a 15ft-thick layer of vegetation that supports
trees, bushes and unique wildlife above a 40ft-deep pool
Gnaphosa nigerrima was identified by entomologist Mr
The spider emerged as a bonus when English Nature asked
for the population of another spider unique to Wybunbury
Moss - Carorita limnea - to be checked.
Examples of a much larger and darker spider than Carorita
limnea were found, and Mr Felton recognised them as
Gnaphosa nigerrima, which has previously been found only
in northern continental Europe.
Wybunbury Moss was already acknowledged as a
scientifically important site. A tiny spot near the
Cheshire village of Wybunbury, it is at the centre of a
tree-covered bowl. Dead trees, killed when their roots
break through to the acidic water below dot the moss and
sway when it is walked on.
Sphagnum moss, which will grow only in these acidic
conditions, has over the years formed a thick mat over
the surface. Without the encircling trees, the moss and
its unique collection of wildlife and plants would be
The Natural History Museum's spider specialist, Mr Paul
Hillyard, said it was "a unique find". There
are now 640 species of British spiders."