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Kerala Scientists Find 6 New Spider Species, Including 1 Notorious Black Widow Family

Indian researchers from the Christ College, Irinjalakuda in Kerala have found not one or two but six new spider species at Harithavanam near the Aluva Sivarathri manappuram.

This study was led by Dr. Sudhikumar A. V, Head of Centre for Animal Taxonomy and Ecology, Christ College, Irinjalakuda and accompanied by research scholars Nafin K. S., Sudhin P. P, Sumesh N. V., Misvar Ali and Jimmy Paul, with support from the Department of Forestry.

Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus).JPG

Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus) (Photo: Wikipedia, Creative Commons)

The first among the six identified was a spider species called Argyrodes, a venomous spider from the notorious black widow family, which measures similar in size to a house fly living off on web between green leaves. Black widow is known by the name since they their males.

The second and third species spotted by them belong to the genus Tetragntha, an yellow coloured spider with long jaws and prominent four balck spots on its back and black bands on its joints of legs. It abdomen is in green-colour, covered by white colored scales, said researchers.

The fourth new species found was of the genus Trachelas, an ant-like spider with 8 diamonds like sparkling eyes in its aneterior of dark brown head.

The fifth species was of the genus Dendrolycosa that that eats insects in water bodies. It has white lines in the brown coloured body having prominent spines and legs and its 8 eyes are located in 2 rows of inverted U-shaped pattern, said researchers.

The sixth species belong to the Chrysso genus of comb-foot spider family, which builds small webs in between grass blades to catch their prey. It has black glossy body and brownish legs, explain Dr Sudhikumar.

Last year, the Centre for animal taxonomy and ecology of Christ College, Irinjalakuda spotted 8 new species of spiders in the Parambikulam Tiger reserve belonging to the genus Deinopis of family Deinopidae, the genus Dolomedes coming under the family Pisauridae, the genus Calaenea, the genus Haploclastus, the genus Stenaelurillus, Green spotted Neoscona spider of the family Araneidae.

The latest additions have been part of wide spider diversity exploration survey in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve that resulted in the inventory of more than 200 species of spiders.

Whie some of these species are found in Western Ghats, others have similarity with African region and few more are similar to Malayan region, giving insights into the evolutionary origin of spiders in the Indian subcontinent.

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