Despite the technological and scientific advancements of the 21st century, there are a lot of things we still don't know about Earth and its inhabitants.
For instance, there are 55 known species of our fuzzy tarantula friends, and yet a new study revealed that there are 14 more species of these spiders in southwestern United States.
One of these new species is named after country singer Johnny Cash, aptly named because it is as charismatic, dark and brooding as the superstar, researchers said.
Dr. Chris Hamilton, the study's lead author, said what was remarkable about the discovery of these new spider species is that they live in our very own backyard, but we still don't know much about the diversity of species on the planet.
Why Little Is Known About New Spider Species
Tarantulas, genus Aphonopelma, are among the most unique spider species in the country. They are distinctive because of the extreme size differences to which they grow. Some reach six inches in leg span, while some can fit on the face of an American coin.
Hamilton said one of the reasons that we don't know much about new spider species is that identifying them is a difficult job.
It's apparently really difficult to distinguish which spiders were of the same kind. Prior to the study, some of the spiders were poorly-defined and were considered to belong to the same species.
Hamilton said what they want people to know and understand is the fact that taxonomic research involves a lot of people, time and funding to deeply understand the diversity of species on Earth.
To figure out modern species of spiders, Hamilton and his colleagues evaluated about 3,000 tarantulas in southwestern U.S. for more than 10 years.
Aside from just distinguishing spiders' physical features, researchers took note of the animals' anatomy, behavior, distribution and genetic data. The team found that there are 29 Aphonopelma species in the U.S., of which 14 are new to science.
The 'Man In Black'
One of these species is the Aphonophelma johnnycashi which were found near the famous Folsom Prison in California. The place is widely-known because of Johnny Cash's song called "Folsom Prison Blues."
It's also because mature males of this species have generally black coloration, and thus it pays homage to the musician's clothing style. Cash is often referred to as the "man in black."
"It immediately fit," said Hamilton.
With the others, however, scientists employed a different method of naming them. Some were named after the place they were found, such as A. mojave, A. superstitionense and A. saguaro.
There was one spider species named as A. moellendorfii. Hamilton said this was to commemorate Dave Moellenderof, his fellow arachnologist who introduced him to the distribution of tarantula in Texas and supported his interest in them.
Meanwhile, Hamilton believes that by naming a new spider species after a well-known icon will ignite public interest in these critters. He said their work isn't about scoring naming rights, earning money or becoming famous themselves.
"We do it because we love what we do," said Hamilton. "We really love the organisms, and we want to know what's here on Earth and what their relationships are."
Their findings are featured in the journal ZooKeys.