What This Farmer Thought Was an Ancient Relic Turned Out to Be an Extremely Rare SpiderTedFact0 Comments 0 In Chengdu, a town in Southwest China, Li Wenhua discovered something amazing in his orange orchard in 2016. The region is known for its harsh and cold winters, but he was in for more than just unpleasant weather today. 2 Li was just a normal, everyday farmer. He shared the same surname with over 100 million people worldwide, making it the second most prevalent surname in China. While his surname was important during the Tang Dynasty, he couldn’t stake claim to any royal blood. 3 Li spent his time growing citrus fruits. However, that year most orchards throughout China were experiencing citrus greening disease, which would significantly reduce their crop. One day, Li discovered something that would hopefully improve his crops, no matter what their health condition was. 4 Typically, the health of trees in Pujiang County, where Li resides, was not generally a concern. More than half of Pujiang is covered by trees and creates a fertile and rich environment. However, Li wasn’t expecting to discover something as valuable as he did in his orchard. 5 China experiences plenty of poverty. In fact, over 40 million Chinese people survive on an income of about $350. What’s even more astonishing is that 500 million Chinese people must survive on a daily income of just $5.50. Li’s discovery would be a big deal for these people, though. 6 As Li was working on in his orchard, he noticed something unusual in front of him. He had never seen anything like it! It didn’t seem to fit in with the green of his citrus trees or the dark soil. In fact, it looked to be manmade. 7 Li examined the object. He believed it to be a cultural artifact, maybe a coin or medallion from many centuries ago. Moving closer to the object, he thought for sure he had found something of value. 8 Li wouldn’t be completely wrong if he found an old artifact. Pujiang County can be traced back to 2,500 years ago after the Qin Kingdom conquered the Shu Kingdom. It wouldn’t be strange for Li to find a 2,000 year old coin on his farm. 9 Just after Li concluded he had discovered an ancient artifact, it did something incredible. It moved! The object wasn’t an artifact at all, but an animal. In fact, it was a spider. One of the strangest spiders Li had ever seen. 10 It wasn’t uncommon to find spiders in Pujiang County. In fact, China is home to over 3,000 spider species. 11 Once Li overcame his initial shock, he decided to carry the spider home to show his friends in a plastic water bottle. Word got out about the spider and Li’s neighbors rushed over to see the spider. Still unsure what he had found, Li took to the internet to find out just what he was dealing with. What he read surprised him. 12 Li learned that the spider was called a Chinese Hourglass Spider. The species was feared to be extinct having only been seen five times since the year 2000. It was first recorded as having been discovered during the 5th century BC. The flat disc at the end of its abdomen distinguishes the spider from other species. 13 The spider was first recorded in the 5th century text, Erya. It’s China’s oldest known dictionary. In its 15th chapter, the spider is mentioned to resemble a Chinese hourglass. Disappointed that Li didn’t discover an ancient relic, he was excited to have discovered an extremely rare spider. 14 Just as the spider’s name describes, its body does resemble an hourglass with a large abdomen with a round flat bottom. It is a dark, muddy color so it can blend with its surroundings. It was the flat disc that lead Li to believe that he had discovered an ancient coin. 15 Another name for the spider is the “trapdoor spider.” This stems from the spider burrowing underground where it uses the flat disk of its abdomen to close the entrance to the burrow and protect itself from any predators. 16 “Li shi pan fu zhu” is the Chinese name for the hourglass spider. The Latin name is Cyclosmia ricketti, which translates to “the spider of extreme scientific value.” Zhao Li, an entomologist said, “And it is definitely a rare species on Sichuan province.” 17 The spider, which is normally found in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, was a remarkable discovery. It was rare to find it in Sichuan because of the extremely cold temperatures. The spider was known to have survived 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but never colder than that. Sichuan’s winters were much colder. So, Li’s discovery helped scientists to learn more about the spider. 18 While spiders can be frightening to some people, many keep spiders from the same Cyclocosmia genus as their pets. They make great pets due to their calm temperament. Li didn’t have any intentions to keep the spider as a pet though, no matter how rare it was. 19 A female spider of that species has a disc that is just half an inch in diameter. The body is just a little over an inch long. Even though it is small, the value of the spider is incredible. 20 Li learned that he could sell his discovery for about 12,000 Yuan (RMB), which is about $1,900. It was then that he decided to sell the spider to someone looking for a pet. This money would set him well off being much more than what the millions of Chinese people earn each year.