New tarantula species found near Folsom Prison named after singer Johnny Cash

A tarantula named after singer Johnny Cash is among 14 new species identified by scientists who spent a decade collecting the hairy spiders and studying nearly 3,000 of them.

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The tarantula is black and can be found near the California prison that is the setting of Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."

Chris Hamilton and colleagues from Auburn University and Millsaps College collected nearly 1,500 spiders from the 12 states where tarantulas live, and about 300 sent by the public. They analyzed DNA from more than 1,000 of those spiders, and examined another 1,200 specimens lent by museums in New York and London.

They have collapsed the number of U.S. species from 55 to 29, including the 14 new ones.

The group used more DNA specimens and a much broader range of DNA than any past studies, said Ingi Agnarsson, who evaluated the study as an editor for the journal ZooKeys, which recently published it.

"This is unequivocally the most important work on tarantulas ever done. It sets an incredibly high standard for taxonomy which few will be able to attain," Robert Raven of Australia's Queensland Museum wrote in an email after reading the paper.



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