Giant new kind of tarantula discovered in Sri Lanka

 

James Legge
Friday 05 April 2013 15:37
Comments

Scientists in Sri Lanka have discovered a huge new kind of tarantula.

Poecilotheria rajaei had originally been presented to the country's Biodiversity Education and Research (BER) organisation three years ago by villagers in the remote northern village of Mankulam, who had killed a male.

Scientists immediately realised the dead spider was not like anything they already knew and a group set out to find living specimens.

Its legs have unique daffodil-yellow markings and span 20cm. The arachnid also has a distinctive pink band around its body.

The living Poecilotheria rajaei were eventually discovered in the former doctor's quarters of the village's hospital.

Ranil Nanayakkara, the co-founder of BER, told wired.com: "They are quite rare.

"They prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings."

The species is said to be related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, one of the world's largest spiders.

Peter Kirk, who wrote about the discovery in the British Tarantula Society's journal, told Sky News: "Ranil has been working on these spiders since 2009 out in Sri Lanka and this is the first of what is thought to be a number of new species he has discovered in what was previously the inaccessible northern region of the island.

"It demonstrates that wildlife continues to survive whilst we are in the throes of conflict and that they can adapt to its changing environment - but also highlights that we risk destroying the habitats of species new to science and condemning them to extinction before they are even discovered."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in