At least nine new endangered species of tarantula have been discovered in Central and Eastern Brazil, a science site reported over the weekend.
Scientific American said the nine newly-described species are threatened by habitat loss and potentially by overzealous spider collectors.
Citing the open-access journal ZooKeys, the report
said the newly discovered species included:
- Typhochlaena amma
- T. costae
- T. curumim
- T. paschoali
- Pachistopelma bromelicola
- Iridopelma katiae
- I. marcoi
- I. oliveirai
- I. vanini
The Typhochlaena genus had last been seen in 1850, the Scientific American noted.
Before the discovery of the nine new species, only seven species had been known from the area, it added.
Rogério Bertani, a researcher at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, conducted the study of the area’s tarantulas.
Bertani had described a previous spider, Pterinopelma sazimai, which was named one of the top 10 new species of 2011.
Like the newly discovered species, Pterinopelma sazimai also faces a threat from the exotic pet trade.
Not yet studied heavily
In a 94-page paper, Bertani said tarantulas, which come from the family Theraphosidae, have not been heavily studied to date.
Yet, he cited their “potential importance as top predators in ecological webs, the pet trade and a source of important tools for pharmacological research.”
He studied specimens from the wild and nine different museums and other institutions to measure legs, hairs, eyes, claws and other physical characteristics to determine the new species.
Such analysis let him re-describe dozens of previously identified tarantula species.
Scientific American said nearly all the new species Bertani described “appear to be at least threatened, if not endangered.”
It said that of the five Typhochlaena species, only 40 specimens have been collected to date.
He had noted the Pachistopelma species depend on bromeliads, high-elevation flowering plants that can offer water and shelter.
However, the bromeliads also face the threat of habitat destruction in some regions.
As for the other species, their home – the Atlantic rainforest – has been reduced to just 7 percent of its original size.
But Bertani also cited the threat of the exotic pet trade because of the species’ colorful characteristics. — TJD, GMA News