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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

New jumping spider species discovered at Aarey Colony in Mumbai

Arachnid found in 2016 was named after the state’s senior forest official Sunil Limaye

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2019 00:53 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global spider diversity.
Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global spider diversity. (Rajesh Sanap)

A new species of jumping spider has been discovered in Aarey Colony. Identified as Jerzego sunillimaye, it has been named to honour Sunil Limaye, additional principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife east), Maharashtra forest department. Jerzego sunillimaye is the first species of the genus Jerzego whose taxonomic details, mating behaviour, and egg development have been documented. It is the fourth species under this genus in the world and the second from India.

Found for the first time in 2016, researchers studied the eco-sensitive, dry-deciduous habitat of Aarey Colony for almost three years to understand the natural history of this spider. The study was carried out by a team of arachnologists led by Rajesh Sanap, Dr. John Caleb and Anuradha Joglekar. Their findings were published in a peer-reviewed journal, Arthropod Selecta, and made public on Saturday. “These discoveries add to the pressing need for conserving this region,” said Sanap.

Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global spider diversity and family Salticidae under which they are classified is the largest family of spiders and are understudied, especially in Asia. HT reported in September 2017 that Aarey was home to other jumping spiders such as Langelurillus onyx and Langelurillus lacteus.

“These tiny creatures can be easily recognised by their large eyes, dark grey body colouration, and a distinctly coloured abdomen with a crescent shaped golden-yellow stripe in its latter half. They are hunters (during the day) and possess brilliant vision and swift reflexes,” said Sanap. The length of the male species is 5.52mm and the female is almost twice the size at 10.3mm. “Identification was challenging as we had data on females only. Another survey helped us find two males and we noticed the morphology resembled the Southeast Asian species. Males can be readily distinguished by their unique reproductive organs,” said Dr. Caleb.

“Of the three species in the world from this genus, only one species is known from the Indian subcontinent. Two other species are known from Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast Asia,” said Sanap. According to the study, spiders are highly sensitive to miniscule changes in their environment.

Limaye, who has worked closely with the researchers of the study, said, “I am honoured that this new species is named after me. There are many more jewels in Aarey Colony, and this habitat needs to be safeguarded as we strive to achieve a balance between development and conservation.”

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 00:52 IST