Jumping spider species first seen in India | News from Mumbai
Researchers from the Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Tamil Nadu, Christ College, Kerala, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, recently documented the first sighting of a spider species – identified as Irura mandarina – in India . The researchers made this discovery during a routine arachnology excursion in the Western Ghats at Kudal Taluka in Sindhudurg District.
“Previously, this species was only known from two locations in Vietnam and one location in southern China,” the researchers write in their article published this month in the international, peer-reviewed arachnology journal Peckhamia. The Irura mandarina belongs to a larger family of “jumping spiders” called “Salticidae”. According to existing literature, this spider family contains 600 different genera and over 6,000 described species, several of which can be found across the country.
But within the genus Irura, this is possibly the second spider to be found in India. A specimen of the same genus was registered in North Lakhimpur, Assam, in 2020, but the species itself could not be described, explained Rishikesh Tripathi, an arachnologist from Christ College.
“In June of this year we were on a routine excursion near some caves in the Sindhurdurg district. It was quite late in the day and we used our flashlights to get around. We saw this bright, gold-colored spot in the dark and thought it was some kind of bright insect that glowed at night, but on closer inspection it was a spider. I was very surprised because I have never seen such a colorful spider, ”said Tripathi, whose main research area is the study of desert spiders in Rajasthan.
The researchers later received two more specimens (one male and two females) from the site and were able to describe them taxonomically after laboratory analysis. “We reached out to an American researcher named David Hill with our results, and he confirmed it for us and suggested that we publish this result,” said Tripathi.
“The Western Ghats and their rich biodiversity reveal themselves to those who have patience and perseverance. As a result of such research in the Western Ghats, more and more new species are coming to light. This is another big reason why the Western Ghats need to be cared for and protected, ”the authors said in a statement released this week advocating for the area to be further protected. The place of their discovery is part of the Sahyadri hills and is considered a global biodiversity hotspot.