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New spider name salutes Native American ties

Contest inspired by UC Davis professor's rare discovery draws 200-plus entries

This is a female Cryptocteniza kawtak.
(Photo courtesy Jason Bond, UC Davis)

A once-in-a-lifetime discovery now has a name: Cryptocteniza kawtak .

That blend of Latin and Mutsun was the winning entry in a naming contest
for a new species of trapdoor spider, discovered by UC Davis professor Jason Bond.

Bond found the unusual spider, described as “a living fossil” for its throwback ancestry,
on a sandy beach at Moss Landing State Park near Monterey.

During the pandemic, he held an online naming contest and received more than 200 suggestions
from around the globe.

“There were a lot of names proposed,” Bond told Bug Squad blogger Kathy Keatley Garvey.
“They fell into a few general categories:
1) named after me – people apparently like my last name and the association with the James Bond
character but naming a spider after one’s self would not be good form;
2) Native Americans, particularly California indigenous groups;
3) location (Moss Landing) and/or physical description; and
4) names related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests and movement and George Floyd.”

Announced Monday, the winning entry -- “kawtak” -- fell into groups two and three.
The name comes from the Mutsun word for “seashore.”

The Mutsun tribe lived near Mission San Juan Bautista, not far from Moss Landing.

“I have also named other California spiders in the past for Native American groups and
feel strongly that such new species names are an elegant connection to California, to the
land and its native people,” Bond said.

The name was submitted by entomologist and UC Davis alumna Kirsten Pearsons,
who just received her doctorate at Penn State.

In her submission, she wrote: “Kawtak means ‘on the seashore' in the Mutsun language.
Before the Spanish arrived, the Moss Landing area was home to the Mutsun people. Today,
tribal members and linguists are working to revitalize the Mutsun language, so this could
be a small way to recognize this effort and to recognize their ties to the Monterey Bay.

"Also, it just sounds nice following the genus name!”

Bond first discovered the new spider (a female) in 1997, but it took until 2019 for him to
find a male and verify a separate species.

With a team of UC Davis colleagues, Bond wrote a scientific journal article on the spider find,


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For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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