Black spider named after Johnny Cash

Black tarantulaImage copyright
Chris A Hamilton

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Adult males of the new species Aphonopelma johnnycashi are almost entirely black

A new species of black tarantula that lives near Folsom Prison, California, has been named after Johnny Cash.

The famously black-clad country singer wrote a song about the prison, and also played a historic series of concerts for inmates there in the 1960s.

Aphonopelma johnnycashi is among 14 new tarantula species from the southern US which have been described by biologists in the journal ZooKeys.

Their study completely rewrites the family tree of the Aphonopelma genus.

One of dozens of tarantula genera, this group was previously considered to include more than 50 separate species.

As part of his PhD research at Auburn University in Alabama, Chris Hamilton carefully whittled that down to 29. He eliminated a lot of double-counting, but also defined 14 species that were entirely new to science.

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