Chippy, Sniggy and Tiggy: Cutest Goblin Spiders Ever?


Goblin spiders are tiny, typically no more than a few millimeters. This one is called Pelicinus tumpy. The spider's named after Mr. Tumpy, a fictional character from children's author Enid Blyton. Suresh P. Benjamin

Sri Lanka is literally crawling with goblins — goblin spiders, that is. Now we can add nine more to the list, including Snooky, Tumpy, Chippy, Snippy,Tiggy and Bom.

If they sound a bit fanciful, that's because they're the names of fictional goblins and brownies from the work of 20th-century children's writer Enid Blyton. National Institute of Fundamental Studies researcher U.G. S. L. Ranasinghe and professor Suresh P. Benjamin took inspiration from Blyton's fiction in designating the goblin spiders Pelicinus snooky, Pelicinus tumpy, Ischnothyreus chippy , Silhouettella snippy, Silhouettella tiggy and Cavisternum bom.

These additions bring the Sri Lanka's goblin spider population up to 45 species across 13 genera, according to new findings published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics. Here, they're not only isolated to a single island, but sometimes to a single patch of wilderness. Many of these species were unknown to science before the 21st century, which makes the invocation of goblin fantasy all the more perfect.

After all, the mischievous goblins and helpful brownies (fairy-like creatures who are close relative of goblins) are often depicted in folklore as small and secretive. They do their work unseen in the night, just as the goblin spiders live their lives amid forest floor leaf litter. The folkloric goblin rarely exceeds the height of a person's knee, while goblin spiders are no larger than 1-3 millimeters (0.04-0.11 inches) in length.

Globally, the Oonopidae family boasts 1,600 species of goblin spiders, and hundreds of additional species remain uncatalogued. So who knows what other intersections of goblin science and goblin fantasy are possible? Will Jareth the Goblin King ever receive the honor? What about Blix from "Legend" and Azog from "The Hobbit?" Only time will tell.



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