Sunday 18 November 2012

Nine new species of tree-dwelling Tarantulas from Brazil.

Tarantulas belonging to the Subfamily Aviculariinae are tree-dwelling Tarantulas from Central and South America and the islands of the Caribbean. They are popular in the pet trade due to their docile natures; they are generally traded as 'Pinktoes' or Pink-toed Tarantulas'. Like most New World Tarantulas they seldom bite defensively, instead defending themselves with a dense covering of irritating 'urticating hairs' on their abdomens, which can be loosed by brushing with the hind legs and wafted at potential predators, causing irritation to the eyes and nose.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 23 October 2012, Rogério Bertani of the Laboratório Especial de Ecologia e Evolução at the Instituto Butantan presents a review of the Avicularinid Tarantulas of Brazil, in which he describes nine new species of Spider.

Four of the new species are placed in the genus Typhochlaena, tree-dwelling Tarantulas known only from Brazil, that nest under the bark of trees. Most species of Typhochlaena are found only in rain-forests.

The first of these new species is Typhochlaena curumimcurumim being a Tupi word meaning 'child'; the species is described from three specimens found high in a tree by local children, during an arachnological expedition to the Mata do Pau-Ferro reserve near Areia in Paraíba State in September 1999. Typhochlaena curumim is a metallic yellowish-green Tarantula with brown legs and five lateral black stripes on each side. All three specimens discovered were female.

Typhochlaena curumim. Bertani (2012).

The second species described is Typhochlaena paschoali, named in honour of Elbano Paschoal de
Figueiredo Moraes, a Brazilian environmentalist, and founder of the Grupo Ambientalista da Bahia, who died in 2011. Typhochlaena paschoali is a black Spider with brown legs and a white zigzagged patted along the central line, found at a number of locations in Bahia State.

Typhochlaena paschoali, preserved specimen (not original colours). Bertani (2012).

The third species described is Typhochlaena amma, named for the Aracnídeos e Miriápodes da Mata Atlântica project, scientists from which collected the specimens used to describe the species. The females of this species are black with a blue metallic sheen and a pink central stripe with a zigzagged border, the males are brown and black with a pale dorsal stripe, again zigzagged. The Spiders were found in the mountains of Espirito Santo State.

Typhochlaena amma, adult female. Bertani (2012).

The fourth new species described is Typhochlaena costae, in honour of Miriam Costa, formerly of the Instituto Butantan, who collected the first specimen of this species. Both the males and females are brown and black with two rows of red spots on their abdomens. In total three specimens of the species have been discovered, though its exact habitat is a mystery; one specimen having been found during a animal rescue project during a flood, a second falling into a pit trap, and the third being found inside a container of fossils.

Typhochlaena costaeadult female. Bertani (2012).

The fifth species described is placed within the genus Pachistopelma, Bromeliad-dwelling Tarantulas known only from the northeast of Brazil, and given the specific name bromelicola, meaning Bromeliad-dweller. This is only the second species ever described in the genus. It is a black or dark brown Spider with brown or golden hairs, the male has an orange abdomen.

Pachistopelma bromelicola. (Top) female, (Bottom) male. Scale bars are 10 mm. Bertani (2012).

The final four new species are placed within the genus Iridopelma, Tarantulas with distinctive tibial spurs on their legs, that nest in leaves bound together with silk threads or Bromeliads.

Tibial spurs on the legs of Tarantulas of the genus Iridopelma. Scale bars are 1 mm. Bertani (2012).

The first species of this genus described is Iridopelma vanini, named in honour of Sérgio Antonio Vanin, a Brazilian entomologist and arachnologist. This is a predominantly black Tarantula, but covered in coloured hairs that give it a brownish appearance. The spider was found in Piaui, Maranhão, Tocantins and Pará States in the north of Brazil. The environment favored by the Spider is unclear; one was found nesting under a fallen tree in a (human) disturbed area, the others in coastal sand dunes and cerrado (savanah) vegetation.

Iridopelma vanini, adult female. Bertani (2012).

The second new species in the genus Iridopelma is named Iridopelma katiae, is named after Rogério Bertani's wife, Kátia de Mendonça Faria, an illustrator who has provided work for papers on Spider taxonomy. It is a mostly black Tarantula with a reddish pattern on the dorsal part of the abdomen, found under rocks and in Bromeliads in Bahia State.

Iridopelma katiae; (top) female, (middle) male, (bottom) spiderlings in a nest in a Bromeliad. Bertani (2012).

The third new species in the genus in named Iridopelma oliveirai, named in honor of Judge João Carlos Sá Moreira de Oliveira, who allowed Rogério Bertani to gain access to Tarantulas in the Instituto Butantan collections. It is a dark grey Tarantula with reddish hairs, particularly on the abdomen. The Spiders were found in dryland vegetation; one was in a Bromeliad.

Iridopelma oliveirai; (top) female, (bottom) male. Bertani (2012).

The final new Tarantula named is Iridopelma marcoi, named after Marco Antonio de Freitas, a Brazilian zoologist and geographer who collected a number of specimens used in this study, including the only member of this species discovered. The species is named from a single specimen, an adult female Spiner, black and brown in colour with metallic blue hairs and distinctive bands on its knees. The Spider was found nesting under bark in cerrado (savanna) vegetation, one meter above the ground, at São Desidério in Bahia State.

Iridopelma marcoi, adult female. Bertani (2012).

See also Nine new species of cave-dwelling huntsman spider from LaosNew species of Cave Spider from OregonTwo new species of Pseudoscorpion from ChinaA new species of Scorpion from Western Australia and An Eocene False Scorpion from Baltic amber.

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