New species of ‘jumping spider’ found in Goregaon; researchers name it after city | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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New species of ‘jumping spider’ found in Goregaon; researchers name it after city

ByPrayag Arora-Desai
Jun 26, 2023 06:23 PM IST

This 33-acre nature reserve, home to the ‘jumping spiders’, is “one of the few pristine mixed moist deciduous forest types in India” and shares its boundaries with the biodiverse landscapes of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Film City in Aarey Milk Colony (AMC)

Mumbai: Researchers have documented the presence of a new spider species in Mumbai, and have fittingly christened it ‘Hasarius mumbai’, after the city. The arachnid was found to inhabit rocks lying in close proximity to natural, seasonal streams at the Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) conservation education centre (CEC) in Goregaon East.

The ‘salticidae’ family of spiders as per existing literature contains over 600 different genera and over 6,000 described species of spiders, several of which can be found across the country, and more of which are still being discovered. (HT Photo)
The ‘salticidae’ family of spiders as per existing literature contains over 600 different genera and over 6,000 described species of spiders, several of which can be found across the country, and more of which are still being discovered. (HT Photo)

The 33-acre nature reserve is “one of the few pristine mixed moist deciduous forest types in India” and shares its boundaries with the biodiverse landscapes Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Film City in Aarey Milk Colony (AMC).

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The word ‘Hasarius’ refers to a genus -- a category in taxonomy that ranks above species -- of ‘jumping spiders’ in the ‘salticidae’ family. These are spiders which, instead of trapping their prey in a web, stalk and hunt the prey by pouncing on it. This genus, first discovered in the year 1826, occurs primarily in warm climates.

The researchers from Christ College, Kerala; School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; and the Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, have published their findings in the latest issue of the international, peer-reviewed journal Arthropoda Selecta.

This is the first time since September 2021 that a description of a new biological species from Mumbai city has been published. The last such discovery was that of the Rakthamichthys mumba, a previously unidentified species of hypogean eel, specimens of which were collected from the bottom of a 40-ft well in Jogeshwari West. In 2017, findings of two new spiders -- Langelurillus onyx and Langelurillus lacteus — from Aarey Milk Colony had also been published.

The ‘salticidae’ family of spiders as per existing literature contains over 600 different genera and over 6,000 described species of spider, several of which can be found across the country, and more of which are still being discovered. In India, however, there are only two other Hasarius species which have been documented, namely H. adansoni which is found across the country including in urban areas, and H. kjellerupi, which was documented from the Nicobar islands

In 2021, at least three new records of jumping spiders were made in Maharashtra alone, including the species Icius tukarami (named after Tukaram Omble, the police constable who lost his life trying to fend off Ajmal Kasab during the 26/11 terrorist attacks) from Thane-Kalyan, and Phintella cholkei, from Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, named after late naturalist Kamlesh Cholkhe. A third species, Irura mandarina, was recorded in India for the first time, in the Western Ghats, in Sindhudurg district’s Kudal taluka.

In Rajasthan’s Thar desert, the first recording of another jumping spider species, Menemerus marginatus, was also made in 2021, followed by the discovery of the Pseudomogrus sudhii (named after noted Indian zoologist AV Sudhikumar) and Plexippus minor species from the same region.

Rishikesh Tripathi, who led the research to taxonomically describe the Irura mandarina, Pseudomogrus sudhii and Plexippus minor, has also led the effort to describe the Hasarius mumbai. “Such discoveries are extremely encouraging because they show that Mumbai’s green zones are still extremely rich in biodiversity that is still unknown to us. We collected the first specimens of the Hasarius mumbai during the last monsoon season, and it has taken us a year to demonstrate its distinctiveness. It provides more evidence that Aarey and its surrounding green patches need to be protected,” Tripathi said.

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