10.12.2020 – 11.40 – A group of researchers specialised in the study of arachnids discovered, in the darkness of the Nazi tunnel system of Kleine Berlin, a species of arachnids never before observed in Italy.
These are the amblipigi, specifically the Charinus ioanniticus (Charinidae), whose form and functions are reminiscent of a cross between spider and scorpion: the flattened body has two frontal pedipalps that end with two stilettos with which it catches its prey, while the first pair of legs has developed into two thin whips that it uses as sensory organs.
The dimensions can vary from a few millimetres to four centimetres, but despite its appearance reminiscent of a scorpion this species has no poison sacs and as such is harmless.
On the contrary, the researchers who conducted the study observed that the Triestine species is “quite shy”.
The study was carried out following some sightings by the CAT (Alpine Club of Trieste) in the tunnels of the underground complex.
The maze of tunnels with the function of an air-raid shelter dates back to 1944; since 1996 it has been managed by the CAT which organises periodic guided tours.
The amblipigi, however, were discovered in a main tunnel closed to visits, shut by an iron door; the interior has wet walls, limestone formations and the floor is covered by a veil of water.
Due to the rust that covers the metal parts and the deteriorating wood, the enviroment is resembles a cave; the natural habitat of this species.
Until now, amblipigiums had only been observed in Turkey, on the islands of Rhodes and Kos and, in recent years, in Greece.
It is therefore one of the first discoveries made in continental Europe; normally the amblipigium prefers tropical and subtropical climates.
The discovery, published in the scientific journal “Arachnology”, was coordinated by Aracnofilia (Italian Association of Arachnology) with the participation of Andrea Colla from the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste, Carlo Legittimo, Enrico Simeon, Filippo Castellucci and Gustavo Silva de Miranda, researcher at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Whashington D.C.
[Sources: Bioone.org, First record of Amblypygi from Italy: Charinus ioanniticus (Charinidae).
Academia.edu, First record of Amblypygi from Italy: Charinus ioanniticus]