YouTuber discovers new species of tarantula

A hitherto unknown type of tarantula was discovered in Thailand by a wildlife enthusiast YouTuber. Surprising scientists, the animal surprises by living exclusively in the hollow stems of bamboo.

“These animals are truly remarkable; are the first known tarantulas in a bamboo-based ecology,” said Narin Chomphuphuang, a research arachnologist in the department of entomology and plant pathology at Khon Kaen University in the same country.

Taksinus Bamboos, named after a Thai king, is a new species of tarantula and was found by a YouTuber. Image: Narin Chomphuphuang

JoCho Sippawat, who has 2.5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, first encountered the spider during a walk in a forest in Mae Tho, Mueang Tak District, Tak Province, in northwest Thailand.

Sippawat sent a photo of the animal to Chomphuphuang, who immediately thought it was a new species of tarantula. However, as a CNN report highlights, it was only after a field trip to research and study the spider that the creature was officially declared new: Taksinus bamboos. Its name is a tribute to the 18th century Thai king Taksin the Great.

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Newly discovered tarantula is the only one in Thailand to live in trees

According to scientists, tarantulas in Southeast Asia usually live on the ground or in trees – these usually take turns between different types of trees. The new species is the first tarantula to live exclusively on a single specific plant. Furthermore, it is the only tree inhabitant living in Thailand.

Author of a scientific article published in the journal Zookeys, which describes the discovery and identification analyzes of the new species, Chomphuphuang said that making bamboo his home had many advantages for the spider.

That's because bamboo is moist enough to help the spider maintain its temperature — something that's especially important for tarantulas, which have the ability to shed their exoskeleton. In addition, bamboo's slippery surface also wards off predators.

“We will examine all the trees in the area where the species was discovered. This species is unique because it is associated with bamboo and we have never seen this species of tarantula in any other plant,” said the scientist.

He explains that Taksinus bamboos adapted to life in hollow bamboo branches by building tube-shaped burrows and using its silk as a gateway to the nest. The species also builds silk tubes inside the bamboo, where it can take refuge.

Taksinus Bamboos is the first tarantula known to inhabit only bamboo stems. Image: Narin Chomphuphuang

Interestingly, tarantulas do not drill holes in bamboo branches on their own. Instead, they rely on the help of other animals. According to the study, bamboo is attacked by beetles and earthworms, or sometimes, cracks open in the bamboo as a result of changes in humidity.

“We are primarily on a mission to study and save the biodiversity and wildlife found in these forests, particularly species-specific microhabitats, from extinction,” said Chomphuphuang. “The first step is to inform people about this species and its location. So this forested area must be managed and protected for wildlife.”

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