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Researchers stumble across rare, critically endangered blue Tarantula in Tamil Nadu

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In a chance spotting, researchers came across a rare, endangered bright blue spider in Tamil Nadu.

This spider resides in the Eastern Ghats, in the deciduous forests near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh. It is from the genus Poecilotheria and is commonly known as the Peacock Parachute spider or Gooty Tarantula.

The spider was spotted by a team of researchers from the Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests. They were conducting fieldwork in the forests and spotted this spider in a cave. They later identified the type of spider by looking at photographs from the Zoo Outreach Organizations and Wildlife Information Liaison Development Society.

The blue peacock spider. image credit: IUCN

The spider has an intricate fractal pattern on its underbelly.

The spider has been declared as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That is because they are only found in a small, 100-sq km region, an extremely specific area, in a reserve forest. However, due to deforestation and logging, their habitat is threatened. S. Vimalraj, a wildlife researcher, said that this spider has not been spotted in another part of India expect in its known habitat in Andhra Pradesh.

The female spiders usually live up to 12 years of age and sometimes even till 15 years. Males, however, live only for three to four years. In captivity, these spiders can live up to 10 years.

In an interview with The Hindu, Zeeshan A. Mirza, Researcher at National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru said, “This is an interesting find as this area has never been surveyed before. Species of this genus can be identified based on the banding patterns on the underside of the legs. Tarantulas are biological pest controllers and there is a huge demand for them by collectors in the pet trade. There is an urgent need to protect them.”

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