Hyderabad-based Osmania University which was in the forefront of agitation for Telangana found it fit to name the newly found crab spider in Karimnagar district in an expedition by Zoology researchers after the new state Telangana.
The venomous female spider that preys on insects on flowering plants was chanced upon in Nagnur in Karimnagar district of Telangana and one similar species was found in May 2014 in Alwal, Hyderabad.
With two female spiders, the researchers named the species as ‘Thomisus telanganensis’ and dedicated it to Osmania University students who had sacrificed their lives during the protests for the formation of Telangana.
The discovery of the new species by G.B. Pravalikha, researcher and C. Srinivasulu, an assistant professor has been published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, an International Journal of Conservation and Taxonomy.
The new species is diagnosed by the presence of beak-like protuberances on the spermathecae and the diverging, loop-like intromittent canals, as shown in the picture.
The Telangana variety of spiders do not weave webs and closely resemble Thomisus labefactus of Japan and they tend to walk sideways like crabs. They are also called “flower spiders” as they attack their prey on flowering plants, spitting venom to immobilise them.
Besides, the crab spiders also eat insects and form part of larger ecosystem as bio-controlling agents, according to Dr Srinivasulu. Measuring 3 mm to 23 mm in size, they appear in both bright and dull colours and are found in plants, shrubs, grasses, flowering plants, leaf litter and sometimes under stones.
There is still no certainty about the geological spread of the Thomisus telanganensis but researchers said that it is currently confined to Telangana only. The new species differs from its congeners due to its unique female genital structure, said researchers in their paper published in Threatened Taxa.
The researchers have so far collected two female specimens of the new Thomisus species by chance on 24 March 2014, in a grassland at Nagnur (18030’N & 7909’E; 274m) in Karimnagar District, Telangana, and another female specimen of Thomisus projectus on 2 May 2014, in a home garden in Alwal (17029’N & 78030’E; 567m), Secunderabad in Ranga Reddy District.
The specimen, photographed in real, were preserved, and deposited in the collection of the Natural History Museum of Osmania University, Hyderabad. (Line diagrams were drawn using camera lucida mounted on an Olympus binocular microscope.)
(All Photos: threatenedtaxa.org)