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Nine Attractive New Species of Tarantulas are Under Threat of Being Wiped Out

Oct 31, 2012 08:26 AM EDT

Nine new species of tree-dwelling arboreal tarantulas (See Photos) have been discovered in Central and Eastern Brazil, which also include four of the smallest species ever recorded. Most of these species are commonly found in the Amazon, either living in the jungle or even near places where people live.

Arboreal tarantulas are also found in some tropical places in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

They have thin bodies and long legs that suit their habitat. They have pads at the end of their legs that help them to climb different surfaces, including tree branches and plant leaves.

Rogério Bertani, a tarantula specialist and a researcher at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, Brazil, identified the new species increasing the total to sixteen in the region.

"Instead of the seven species formerly known in the region, we now have sixteen," Bertani said in a statement.

Of the nine new species, five of them belong to the mysterious old genus Typhochlaena. "In a resurrected genus with a mysterious single species known from 1841, we have now five species," Bertani said.

"These are the smallest arboreal tarantulas in the world, and their analysis suggests the genus to be very old, so they can be considered relicts (an organism or species of an earlier time surviving in an environment that has undergone considerable change) of a formerly more widely distributed taxon," he added.

The scientist also identified a new species (Pachistopelma bromelicola) that live inside bromeliads, a kind of flowering plant. Until now only a single species of tarantulas had been known to live inside plants. One more species known as Iridopelma katiae was identified, which takes shelter at the top of mountain tables, reported LiveScience.

"This species also inhabits bromeliads, one of the few places for an arboreal tarantula to live that offer water and a retreat against the intense sunlight," Bertani noted.

All the newly discovered arboreal tarantulas are highly endemic in the Brazilian rainforests. However, they are facing a major threat from human activities. The attractive colors of the species could result in their usage in pet trade, the researcher pointed out.

He suggested that more conservation efforts need to be taken to protect the species.

The findings of the study are published in the open access journal, ZooKeys.

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