A shimmery, cobalt blue tarantula was recently discovered among 30 other new species in Kaieteur National Park, Guyana.
Herpetologist Andrew Snyder was wandering through the Upper Potaro area in Guyana one night when he observed a flash of color in a rotting tree stump. Closer observation revealed several blue tarantulas living in holes throughout the stump in close proximity to one another, which suggests the spiders could be communal.
With years of experience studying specimens in this region, Snyder immediately realized this was a species he’d never seen before.
“Prior to this, I had only ever encountered individual tarantulas, either outside of a burrow like with the Goliath Bird-eaters, walking through the leaf-litter, or clinging to the sides of trees,” he stated in a blog post for the Global Wildlife Conservation.
Using images of the brilliant blue creatures, Snyder and fellow researchers initially described the spider as a member of the tarantula subfamily Ischnocolinae, which does include communal species. However, more research will be done on a collected specimen in order to make a formal classification.
Scientists have discovered at least eight other species of blue spiders, which have all evolved the color through divergent mechanisms, but they’re still not sure what it’s for.
“It evolved from multiple origins and different mechanisms produce the very same blue color. That’s very strong evidence to suggest that this blue color has a very important visual signaling function,” stated Mr. Bor-Kai Hsiung, lead author of a study on blue spider coloration, in a report by the BBC.
Alongside the fascinating new blue tarantula, scientists also uncovered six species of fish, three plants, 15 aquatic beetles and five odonates — all in the same region.
Guyana is an important biodiversity hotspot and the area is sure to have more secrets in store. However, it is threatened by ongoing gold and diamond mining. Snyder says the new discoveries highlight the importance of invertebrate conservation in the country.
Here’s a video of another species of blue tarantula — Poecilotheria metallica: