A Chinese farmer by the name of Li Wenhua walked into his orchard in the morning like he always did, one day on November 2016. It was unpleasantly cold as it usually was that time of year just outside Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province in Southwestern China. He was in for more than just unpleasant weather that morning, he just didn’t know it yet.
Chengdu, is quite an old city. It dates back to 4 BCE and it used to be the capital of the Shu Kingdom. Li though, was just a farmer. His main concern that morning was a citrus greening disease that caused mayhem that year in China and threatened to destroy his orange crop. He was looking for early signs of infection on his orange trees when he saw something that made his day.
It looked like something ancient that could potentially be valuable. A centuries-old antique. Perhaps a medallion. Who knew? Maybe it was a long-lost historical artifact.
Finding such a thing was not far fetched, not in this area. It could be something valuable. Millenia-aged items had been found around those parts before and if that were the case, he could be looking at some serious money.
As he stretched to grab it though, the most unusual thing happened. It moved.
It, had legs but it wasn’t an artifact with legs. It was actually a spider. An incredibly weird spider but, a spider nonetheless.
Spiders are quite common all across China. Over 3000 species 2 of which tarantulas.
Li managed to get the weird spider inside a plastic bag. The neighbours heard about the discovery and decided to visit him to have a look at it. He did some research online and found that the spider wasn’t weird, but rare.
This Spider was thought to be extinct. It had only been sighted five times during this century. Known as the Hourglass spider. It was on the brink of extinction.
The hourglass spider has a lower abdomen shaped like an hourglass. It was that part of the spider what Li mistakenly took for an artifact.
This spider uses its hourglass-shaped lower abdomen to close the entrance to its burrow.
This camouflages the spider and it’s burrow, and blocks the entrance to it preventing unwanted visitors.
The hourglass spider was believed to be incapable of withstanding 55 Fahrenheit. Chengdu, where the spider was found, is below 37 most of the winter. These spiders had been found until now in the Fujian region.
It turns out that these spiders can be sold as pets. They’re sought after for their easy temperament and their unique looks. They’re sold for about $1900, so Li decided to sell it as a pet.