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Jumping spider, last found in Myanmar 122 years ago, spotted in Mumbai

Mumbai city news: An independent researcher and wildlife photographer had photographed a male specimen of the spider first in 2015 and its female in 2016 in the city’s Aarey Milk Colony

mumbai Updated: May 30, 2017 00:50 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,National Centre for Biological Sciences,Jumping spider
The male specimen photographed at Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony in 2015.(Rajesh Sanap)

Piranthus decorus, a species of jumping spider, last found 122 years ago in Burma, now Myanmar, was spotted in Mumbai.

Independent researcher and wildlife photographer, Rajesh Sanap, had photographed a male specimen of the spider first in 2015 in the city’s Aarey Milk Colony. At that time it was not clear if it was a rare species. During surveys in 2016, a female spider of the same species was found in the same locality. The species has now been identified as Piranthus decorus, last seen in 1895 in the then Burma. The results have been accepted for publication in Acta Arachnologica, a Japanese journal of Arachnology (study of spiders) and will be published in the August issue of the journal.

A Swedish arachnologist, Tamerlan Thorell, spotted the species in Tharrawaddy, Burma (then part of British India). Jumping spiders form 13% of the global spider diversity and family Salticidae, under which they are classified, is the largest family of spiders.

Who is Piranthus decorus?
  • Piranthus decorus is a small spider with black carapace covered in long black hair with intermittent white scales.
  • It possesses a characteristic broad yellow patch on the abdomen.
  • The jumping spiders are recognized by the peculiar pattern of their eyes and exhibit one of the best visions among arthropods.
  • They acquire the name because of their characteristic habit of hopping over long distances, facilitated by strong forelegs

The spiders rediscovered from Mumbai are found in tree trunks. The presence of the species in Mumbai was confirmed in a study carried out at National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, by John Caleb, PhD in arachnology from the Madras Christian College and currently working at the Zoological Survey of India, and Sanap.

During surveys in 2016, a female spider of the same species was found in the same locality. ( Rajesh Sanap )

“Spiders, as a group are understudied. Aarey Colony would be an ideal habitat to explore spider diversity. More extensive surveys need to be carried out to bring attention to the diversity of this group. Considering that several species have been described or rediscovered from Aarey Colony in recent past, we certainly expect more discoveries from this forest,” said Sanap.

Caleb pointed out that spiders are one of the most diverse predators. “They constitute a major component of the terrestrial ecosystems and help regulate the insect populations. Recently, research on spiders in India is gaining momentum, owing to the use of spiders as bio-control agents in pest management programs,” he said.

First Published: May 30, 2017 00:49 IST