Tattoos, murals, cornfield designs, baby names, and now a new species of jumping spider — Akela scaloneta. Argentina’s devotion to the team that brought back the World Cup is the gift that keeps giving.
The Argentine Salticidae (Jumping Spiders) Investigative Group, or GISA, found seven new species of jumping spiders across several provinces.
GISA published their findings in a scientific spider magazine, Peckhamia, explaining what every Argentine knows — “the specific name is a noun (nickname) in apposition that refers to Argentina’s national team of soccer, a sort of symbolic van with the coach Lionel Scaloni at the wheel.”
They discovered the little orange Akela scalonetas in the Urutaú Natural Reserve in Misiones province.
“The name isn’t so much because of the spider’s characteristics, but the moment we were describing,” one of the scientists, Julián Baigorria, told the Herald. “We described and analyzed Akela scaloneta the same week that Argentina won the World Cup and, in the fervor of all the celebrations, there was no way we could think of another name.”
“It’s a way of paying tribute to the team that brought us so many joys and for that in some way to last forever.”
The World Cup celebrations were historic in their magnitude, with five million people hitting the streets on the team’s return in the city of Buenos Aires alone.
“I love seeing that a little spider, that nobody knew about until a few months ago, is in the media,” said Baigorria, who also works for the Misiones Biodiversity Institute and said spiders often get unjustified bad press.
“Sometimes this type of tribute — which was sincere, not planned like a marketing strategy — can help raise awareness about species that never get international funding for preservation or local funding because they’re not ‘charismatic.’”
Misiones province has the highest number of jumping spider species in Argentina — only six Akela scalonetas have been found. With any luck, by 2026 there’ll be 11.