A previously unknown type of tarantula has been discovered in Thailand and lives exclusively in the hollow stems of bamboo, surprising scientists.
“These animals are truly remarkable; are the first known tarantulas in a bamboo-based ecology,” Narin Chomphuphuang, a researcher in the department of entomology and plant pathology at Khon Kaen University in Thailand, said in a blog post.
Thai wildlife enthusiast JoCho Sippawat, who has 2.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, first encountered the tarantula during a trip to a nearby forest in Mae Tho, Mueang Tak district. , Tak province in northwestern Thailand, said Chomphuphuang.
Sippawat later emailed a photo of the spider to Chomphuphuang, an arachnologist, who is a scientist who studies spiders.
Chomphuphuang immediately thought it was a new species of tarantula — but it wasn’t until a field trip to research and study the spider that the creature was officially declared new to science. Unlike all other known tarantulas, this one has been declared a new genus and species — the Taxinus bamboo. Its name is a tribute to the 18th century Thai king Taksin the Great.
Tarantulas in Southeast Asia usually live on the ground or in trees. Tree-dwelling tarantulas typically spend their time on different types of trees, and this is the first tarantula to live exclusively on a specific plant. The newly discovered spider is the only tree-dwelling tarantula living in Thailand, the study said.
Chomphuphuang said that making bamboo his home had many advantages for the spider. Bamboo contains moisture that helps the spider maintain its temperature — something that is especially important for tarantulas, which molt and shed their exoskeleton. Bamboo’s slippery surface also deters predators.
“We will examine all the trees in the area where the species was discovered. This species is unique because it is associated with bamboo and we have never seen this species of tarantula on any other plant,” he said in a press release.
A Taxinus bamboo adapted to life in the hollow branches of bamboo by building tube-shaped burrows and using its silk as gateways to the nest. The species also builds silk tubes inside the bamboo, in which it can take refuge.
Tarantulas do not drill holes in bamboo branches on their own. Instead, they rely on the help of other animals.
Bamboo is attacked by various animals, including beetles and earthworms, the study explains. Bamboo cracks sometimes open as a result of changes in humidity.
Chomphuphuang said few people realized how much wildlife in Thailand remains undocumented.
“We are primarily on a mission to study and save the biodiversity and wildlife found in these forests, particularly species-specific microhabitats, from extinction,” he said.
“The first step is to inform people about this species and its location. So this forested area must be managed and protected for wildlife.”
The research was published last week in the journal Zookeys.
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil