Rare spider species found in Highgate Cemetery vaults

Meta bourneti spider The spider species may have been in the vaults for up to 150 years

Related Stories

A rare species of spider which lives in darkness has been found in the vaults of Highgate Cemetery in north London, a wildlife trust has said.

The orb weaver spider Meta bourneti was found in the vaults of the Egyptian Avenue of the cemetery in Islington.

Experts said this was the first time the species, which measures more than 30mm, had been recorded in London.

Up to 100 spiders were found in the vault and they may have been thriving undetected for 150 years, experts said.

The spider species require total darkness, even at night, and the sealed vaults which had remained closed for years were the ideal dwelling for them.

Some of the tombs where the spider was discovered date back to the 1830s.

Philosopher Karl Marx, poet Christina Rossetti and novelist George Eliot are buried in the cemetery.

Tony Canning, from London Wildlife Trust, said: "The discovery of this important spider population in the heart of London shows just how valuable cemeteries such as Highgate can be in providing refuges for wildlife."

The species, which preys on small insects and woodlice, is found in other parts of the UK.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

Min. Night 8 °C

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ChildMovie magic

    What do the similarities in children's movies reveal about cinema - and us?

Programmes

  • JellyClick Watch

    Can Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone break the mould with his social Q&A Jelly app?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.