According to new research, a “mesmerizing” electric blue tarantula species has been identified in Thailand.
During an expedition to Phang-Nga province in southern Thailand to study the diversity and distribution of tarantulas, a group of Thai researchers discovered the spider.
“(We found) a new species of tarantula that exhibits a mesmerizing blue-violet hue, reminiscent of electric blue sparks,” Narin Chomphuphuang, a researcher at Khon Kaen University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, told CNN Monday.
On September 18, the study detailing the discovery was published in the scholarly journal ZooKeys.
Thai wildlife YouTuber JoCho Sippawat, who is also an author on the research released last week, was part of the team that discovered the species dwelling in a mangrove forest. Last year, members of the same team discovered a previously undiscovered species of tarantula, now known as Taksinus bambus, living in the hollowed stems of bamboo trees in Thailand.
To advertise the discovery and raise awareness and cash for the indigenous Lahu people of northern Thailand, of which Sippawat is a member, the researchers auctioned off the right to name the new species. Chilobrachys natanicharum is named after two executives from the firm that won the naming contest.
“Blue is one of the rarest colors to appear in nature, which makes blue coloration in animals particularly fascinating,” Chomphuphuang said.
According to the researchers, the colour is caused by the arrangement of “biological photonic nanostructures, rather than pigments.”
This indicates that the electric blue coloring is caused by “the unique structure of their hair, which incorporates nanostructures that manipulate light to create this striking blue appearance,” according to Chomphuphuang.
The scarcity of blue in nature can be attributed to difficulties in the absorption and reflection of specific wavelengths of light. “To appear blue, an object needs to absorb very small amounts of energy while reflecting high-energy blue light,” which is challenging, he said.
The tarantula’s distinctive colour is caused by two types of hairs, “metallic-blue and violet ones,” which are found on various regions of the body, including the legs, the chelicera (pincer-like appendages in front of the mouth), and the carapace (top shell).
The colour and other properties of the spiders vary according to s** and age. According to the study, females and young males have more violet-colored hair than metallic blue hair on various regions of their bodies.
The newly discovered tarantula resides in tree hollows, making capture difficult, with the researchers needing to climb trees to draw it out, according to Chomphuphuang.
“During our expedition, we walked in the evening and at night during low tide, managing to collect only two of them,” he added.
According to the study, Chilobrachys natanicharum was previously identified in the commercial tarantula trade market as “Chilobrachys sp. Electric Blue Tarantula,” but with no information on its characteristics or natural habitats.
Tarantulas are typically either terrestrial or arboreal, but the Chilobrachys natanicharum can thrive in both environments, displaying its versatility, according to the researchers.
However, because to the decline of mangrove forests, which is mostly due to deforestation, Chomphuphuang believes the electric blue tarantula is one of the world’s rarest tarantulas.