Jumping spiders are generally known for their incredible vision and agile jumping skills —and now they’ve added a new dietary choice to their traditional menu of insects.
Arachnologist Javed Ahmed and his research team happened upon an unusual scene in 2014 while executing a survey around the Kumbharli Ghat mountain pass, a biodiversity hotspot of India’s Western Ghats. They spotted tadpoles clinging to a wet cliff and eyed a small brown-and-black spider with white, furry legs in hot pursuit. After a few moments, the spider managed to catch an unlucky invertebrate and jumped up to the top of the cliff to chow down.
“We realized at once that this was completely new, undocumented behavior,” stated Javed Ahmed to Live Science.
While uncertain of the species, the scientists surmise the spider is a relative of the Adanson’s house jumper, Hasarius adansoni, which is commonly found in warmer climates and can grow to about 8 millimeters in length. It is also possible that the spider in question is of a new species entirely.
We present you with our most exciting #discovery yet! 😃
— Javed Ahmed (@curiocritters) November 30, 2017
Ahmed states, “species richness, coupled with a lack of proper research on many groups of invertebrates in the region, means there are several organisms waiting to be discovered, or rediscovered. And that’s just what we’re doing, discovering spiders one species at a time.”
Whatever the species may be, this is the first documented instance of a jumping spider devouring a tadpole, although other jumping spiders have been reported preying on amphibians like lizards and frogs.
A paper on the sighting was published in the journal Peckhamia.