Dedicated to showcasing the wildlife of his country, Thai YouTuber JoCho Sippawat was the first to find this unusual tarantula on bamboo stalks in Mae Tho National Park in Tak province.
He then collaborated with arachnologists Narin Chomphuphuang , from Khon Kaen University, and Chaowalit Songsangchote , from Kasetsart University, who studied and described the new genus.
The study, published in the journal ZooKeys , shows that the peculiarity of this new species is above all its habitat: bamboo stems . That is why it was named Taksinus bambus –in honor of the Thai king Taksin the Great ( Taksinus ) and by the plant ( bambus )–.
“We examined all the trees in the area where the species was discovered . It is unique because it is associated with bamboo: we have not observed it in any other plant”, highlights Chomphuphuang.
This plant species, which is important for the arachnid’s habitat, can only be found in the forests of the high hills of northern Thailand, at an elevation of about 1,000 meters.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that they are now the rarest tarantulas in Thailand ,” continues the researcher.
The spider on a bamboo stem. / JoCho Sippawat
Southeast Asian tarantulas can be terrestrial or arboreal . The latter tend to spend most of the time in different types of trees. But Taksinus bambus is the first to be found exclusively on a specific type of plant.
«These animals are really incredible: they are the first known tarantulas with an ecology based on bamboo,» says the scientist. The spiders were discovered inside mature Asian bamboo ( Gigantochloa sp.) culms. Their nest entrances, which they are not capable of making on their own, vary in size from 2-3 cm to a large opening.
Unable to bore through bamboo stalks themselves, tarantulas rely on the help of other animals, such as the bamboo borer beetle , the bamboo worm , the bamboo-nesting carpenter bee , and some rodents .
The scientists also found that they had a silk-lined tubular burrow , either in the stem of the branch or in the center of bamboo stalks. All of them had built withdrawal silk tubes that lined the cavity of the stem.
In addition to its innovative habitat, the species is distinguished from all other Asian tree genera by having a relatively short embolus of the male pedipalps (second pair of appendages located on the head), which are used to transport sperm to the seminal receptacles of the female during mating.
“Few people realize how much of Thailand’s wildlife remains undocumented,” says Chomphuphuang.
“ Thai forests now cover only 31.64% of the country’s total area. Our main mission is to investigate and save from extinction the biodiversity and fauna of these forests, especially the specific microhabitats of each species”, he concludes.
Spider burrow entrance. / JoCho Sippawat
Songsangchote C, et al. (2022) “A new genus of bamboo culm tarantula from Thailand (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae)” ZooKeys
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