By Vijay Singh
MUMBAI: Five new species of tarantula spiders have been discovered by a group of researchers. Of the five species, one was found at Goregaon's Aarey Milk Colony, and therefore named as Heterophrictus aareyensus.
Research papers of the newly-discovered tarantulas were published on February 14 in the prominent scientific journal 'Plos One'. The recently published paper describes the five new species, including a new genus of tarantulas, from the Western Ghats. Tarantulas are well known to the western world. But most people in India are not aware of the presence of tarantulas in this country.
"The paper describes a new species Heterophrictus aareyensus from Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai; Heterophrictus ravenii from near Bhimashankar; Neoheterophrictus amboli from Amboli Ghat; Neoheterophrictus smithii from near Sharavati WLS Karnataka, a new genus and a new species from Trissur (Kerala), Sahydroaraneus hirsti," said Zeeshan Mirza, a wildlife biology and conservation researcher, who discovered the new tarantula in Aarey Colony.
Names of the other two researchers involved in discovering the other tarantula species are: Rajesh V Sanap and Harshal Bhosale. Sanap is doing a post-graduate programme in ecology and environment, Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, New Delhi, while Bhosale is involved in a PG programme in Environmental Sciences, Department of Environmental Science, Fergusson College, Pune.
"It is interesting to note that these new-found tarantulas have a lot of similarities with those found only in the African continent. I spotted the one at Aarey Colony near the government guesthouse," said Mirza.