Rare Spider Found Again After 150 Years of Silence

Scientists rediscovered after 150 years a rare species of spider, which was believed have become extinct, from the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) located in the Western Ghats region of Kerala.

Renowned arachnologist Ferdinand Anton France Karsch of Berlin Zoological Museum, Germany, had described the inventory of a species of spider from Pariej Lake in Gujarat in 1868. But subsequently it had vanished.

The spider belonged to the family of jumping spiders (Salticidae) and scientifically named as Chrysilla volupes. Dr. Karsch’s inventory was based only on male specimen.

Recently a team of researchers of the Centre for Animal Taxonomy and Ecology (CATE), Christ College, Irinjalakuda, rediscovered both male and female specimens of this spider from the WWS.

“There are iridescent bluish scales present in the top of head region of female and orange bands on both sides of the head. Dorsal surface of abdomen is shiny bluish black. There are black annulations on the yellowish legs. Eight black eyes are arranged in the front and sides of head region. Compared to the female, the male is lean. There are two transverse bands in the dorsal side of orange coloured head region. Abdomen is interspersed by orange and blue colours. Legs are characterized by glossy blue appearance,” said Sudhikumar A.V., Head, CATE, who led the team of scientists.

This spider makes retreats in between green leafs of small plants and female usually lays five to six eggs, he pointed out.

The study was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. The other team members were John Caleb (Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata), Rajesh Sanap and Koushal Patel (National Centre for Biological Science, Bangalore), Sudhin P.P. and Nafin K.S. (CATE). The finding was published in the latest volume of “Arthropoda Selecta”, an international scientific magazine published from Russia.

A species that is not seen for more than 100 years is considered extinct. So this finding underlines the urgent need to conduct more exploratory survey of faunal diversity in India, a mega-diverse country, adds Dr. Sudhikumar.

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