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Take a look at the new species of spider found in Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony

The discovery, which was made in October and November 2016 by a four-member research team, was announced on Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa

mumbai Updated: Sep 08, 2017 09:55 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,spiders,Aarey Milk Colony
Langelurillus lacteus was one of the species discovered in Aarey.

Two new species of jumping spiders — Langelurillus onyx and Langelurillus lacteus — have been found at Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai’s green lungs.  The second species has been reported only in Mumbai.

The discoveries reinforce how vibrant Aarey’s ecosystem is and strengthens the call to protect the area, which has 3,160 acres of grasslands, cattle sheds, tribal villages (which predate the milk production centre) and slums.

The discovery, which was made in October and November 2016 by a four-member research team, was announced on Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa. It is also significant in terms of biogeography as a first for any African genus spider species found in Asia. The presence of these species also .

HT had in May reported that a jumping spider species — Piranthus decorus — had been rediscovered at Aarey after 122 years, first spotted in Tharrawaddy, Burma (then part of British India), now Myanmar.

Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global spider diversity. Salticidae is the largest family of jumping spiders and has been understudied, especially in Asia.

The team of researchers consisted of Rajesh Sanap, Mumbai resident and researcher associated at National Center for Biological Scenics, Bangalore, Anuradha Joglekar, research editor with Crimson Interactive Mumbai, Dhruv Prajapati, researcher with the division of arachnology, department of zoology, Sacred Heart College, Kerala, and John Caleb, research associate at the Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata.

Distributed across Maharashtra and Gujarat, the 4.67-mm-long Langelurillus onyx has a shiny black head, thorax, and abdomen, bordered with a band of white hairs. The same species was report from Gujarat too.

“The species was spotted inhabiting a small sandy and rocky patch by the road side at Aarey,” said Sanap. “This discovery along with previous reports supports the ancient link of the Indian subcontinent with the Gondwana land mass. However, more species remain to be discovered and molecular data needs to be collected to analyse their evolutionary significance.”

Meanwhile, the 4.03-mm-long Langelurillus lacteus, reported only in Mumbai, has milky white band of hairs behind its anterior eyes. “The lacteus mostly found residing in the dry leaf litter on the forest floor,” said Sanap. “The research indicates how the African and Asian continents might have been connected million years ago,” said Prajapati. “We reported the L. onyx from Gujarat and Maharastra, which shows how this species dispersed from one state to other.”

“Over a past few years, Aarey colony has been in the news over one controversy or the other. Whether Aarey is a forest or not has been a topic of debate. Researchers have provided evidence of remarkable biodiversity in Aarey. Apart from large animals, several new species have been discovered or rediscovered from here. This tells us how much we still do not know about this land,” Anuradha Jogalekar, research editor with Crimson Interactive Mumbai.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 09:55 IST