Spider senses tarantula tingling: Arachnologists spin a web of discovery in Thailand

Picture courtesy of ZooKeys.

If you go down in the Thailand woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise, but it’s almost guaranteed there’ll be no Teddy Bears’ picnic, as arachnologists found while discovering a new species of tarantula.

Arachnologists discovered the new species of tarantula deep in a mangrove forest in Phang Nga province, on the southwestern coast of Thailand. They stumbled upon a tiny, bright blue tarantula spider nestled inside a web in a tree hollow. The Arachnologists immediately realised it was a new species.

This fresh arachnid entrant, now officially known as Chilobrachys natanicharum, was unveiled to the world through a study published yesterday, September 18 in ZooKeys. What makes these tarantulas stand out is their exceptional blue-violet colouration, resembling the glint of electrical sparks.

The male tarantulas, meticulously catalogued by researchers, exhibit a size range of approximately 1.51 to 2.19 inches, while their female counterparts measure between 2.24 and 2.66 inches, as disclosed in the study. These captivating creatures boast dark grey legs, with the upper segments adorned in dark hair, transitioning into a metallic blue and violet hue towards the lower sections. Their abdomens and spinnerets are cloaked in a rich shade of dark brown.

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A distinct difference surfaces when it comes to the carapaces. Males display jet-black carapaces, the upper regions of their bodies, whereas females sport a captivating mix of metallic-blue and violet hairs, elegantly interspersed across their carapaces.

Spider senses tarantula tingling: Arachnologists spin a web of discovery in Thailand | News by Thaiger
A juvenile tarantula inside a funnel-web nestled inside a tree hollow. Picture courtesy of ZooKeys.

Yet, tarantulas have more to them than meets the eye. Their unique patches of bristle-like hairs serve as stridulation organs, allowing them to create sounds when rubbed against surfaces. This form of communication is often employed during the crucial phases of mating and territorial displays, as expounded upon in the study. Notably, the Chilobrachys genus possesses extraordinary thorn-like setae, aptly named “strikers,” comprising their stridulating apparatus.

Curiously, this newfound species was previously familiar to experts solely through the commercial tarantula trade market, where it went by the moniker “Chilobrachys sp. Electric Blue Tarantula.” It is only now that this remarkable tarantula has been identified within its natural habitat.

Researchers guess that these tarantulas likely inhabit the southern reaches of Thailand, with a particular affinity for the tranquil mangrove forests, where they take up residence within tree hollows, reported The News Tribune.

This species earned its nomenclature through a naming auction campaign conducted by a Thai company. It was christened in honour of two esteemed company executives, Natakorn Changrew and Nichada Changrew.

In the heart of Thailand’s natural splendour, amidst the whispers of mangrove leaves, a tiny but electric-blue creature has made its debut, a testament to the endless wonders waiting to be uncovered within our world’s enchanting ecosystems but it’s no Teddy Bears’ picnic, as the arachnologists discovered.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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