Hairy blue-and-black tarantula discovered in Guyana rainforest

December 6, 2017, 12:24 p.m.
A blue-and-black tarantula climbs along a tree trunk in the Guyana rainforest.
Photo: Andrew Snyder

Andrew Snyder, a doctoral student in the University of Mississippi's biology department, was walking through the jungles of Potaro Plateau in Guyana at night. Snyder was tasked with locating reptiles and amphibians, senses alert for any gleam of scales or eyes as his flashlight swiped over the rainforest.

During one such swipe, Snyder's torch glanced off a glint of blue from the inside of a rotted tree stump. Snyder dismissed the blue at first, assuming it was the eye of a spider. It turns out he was half-right.

"The blue that my light beam illuminated in fact was not the eye shine of a spider, but rather the forelimbs of a small tarantula. I have spent years conducting surveys in Guyana and have always paid close attention to the tarantula species. I immediately knew that this one was unlike any species I have encountered before," Snyder writes for the Global Wildlife Conservation blog, one of the organizers of the expedition.

The tarantula sports a cobalt sheen on its legs, pincers and abdomen, according to Snyder, and the tree stump he found also housed other spiders living in more holes. Snyder sent news of his find to a colleague who studies tarantulas, and describes the response as "beyond palpable." Snyder says that's when he "knew that this tarantula was something special."

Until a more formal description and study of the spider can be conducted, Snyder says this potentially new species "should stand as a beacon for invertebrate conservation in Guyana."

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