If you’re arachnophobic, that is scared of spiders, then this news might not feel good to you. Two new species of creepy crawlies aka spiders have been found at Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai. They have been identified as two new species of jumping spiders, Langelurillus onyx and Langelurillus lacteus. The second species has been reported only in Mumbai. The discoveries have focussed on how diverse Aarey’s ecosystem is and calls for protection of the area, which has 3,160 acres of grasslands, cattle sheds, tribal villages and slums.
The discovery was made in October and November 2016, by a four-member research team. It was announced on Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa. The discovery holds importance in terms of biogeography as a first for any African genus spider species found in Asia.
HT reported in May that a jumping spider species, Piranthus decorus had been rediscovered at Aarey after 122 years, first spotted in Tharrawaddy, Burma now Myanmar.
Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global diversity. Salticidae is the largest family of jumping spiders and has been not studied much yet, especially in Asia.
The team of researchers consisted of Rajesh Sanap, Mumbai resident and researcher associated at National Center for Biological Scenics, Bangalore, Anuradha Joglekar, research editor with Crimson Interactive Mumbai, Dhruv Prajapati, researcher with the division of arachnology, department of zoology, Sacred Heart College, Kerala, and John Caleb, research associate at the Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata.
Langelurillus onyx has a 4.67 mm-long body with shiny black head, thorax and abdomen. It is bordered with a band of white hair. The same species was found in Gujarat as well.
“The species was spotted inhabiting a small sandy and rocky patch by the road side at Aarey,” said Sanap. “This discovery along with previous reports supports the ancient link of the Indian subcontinent with the Gondwana land mass. However, more species remain to be discovered and molecular data needs to be collected to analyse their evolutionary significance.”
On the other hand, Langelurillus lacteus is 4.03 mm-long which is reported in Mumbai only. It has milky white band of hair behind its anterior eyes.
“The lacteus mostly found residing in the dry leaf litter on the forest floor,” said Sanap. “The research indicates how the African and Asian continents might have been connected million years ago,” said Prajapati. “We reported the L. onyx from Gujarat and Maharastra, which shows how this species dispersed from one state to other.”
“Over a past few years, Aarey colony has been in the news over one controversy or the other. Whether Aarey is a forest or not has been a topic of debate. Researchers have provided evidence of remarkable biodiversity in Aarey. Apart from large animals, several new species have been discovered or rediscovered from here. This tells us how much we still do not know about this land,” Anuradha Jogalekar, research editor with Crimson Interactive Mumbai.
For more such stories, follow our Facebook page