Western Ghats throws up a new species of jumping spiders

Pancorius sebastiani, named after the late spider taxonomist P.A. Sebastian, was discovered from the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary

November 04, 2023 06:09 pm | Updated 06:50 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Pancorius sebastiani

Pancorius sebastiani

As scientific explorations continue to unravel the secrets of biodiversity-rich Western Ghats, a new species of jumping spiders has been discovered from the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.

A group of researchers comprising Asima A. of the Department of Zoology in Kerala University, the head of the department G. Prasad, and John T.D. Caleb of the Department of Anatomy, Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chennai, has reported the findings that have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Arachnology brought out by the British Arachnological Society.

The new species, which belongs to the jumping spider genus Pancorius Simon, 1902, and Salticidae family, has been named Pancorius sebastiani after the late spider taxonomist P.A. Sebastian in recognition of his valuable contributions towards Indian arachnology.

The Pancorius genus of Asian jumping spiders is primarily distributed in southeast Asia. While its distribution was hitherto limited to the east and northeastern regions in India, the new species is the first to be reported from the south. The distribution, the researchers point out, appears to be discontinuous, raising doubts if they are limited to those regions.

Features

The males and the females of Pancorius sebastiani exhibit reddish brown carapace, yellowish abdomen with black patches and chevron-shaped markings posteromedially.

An analysis of Salticidae species in the country shows that only two States, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, have reported high numbers, while the others including those harbouring biodiversity hotspots like the Western Ghats and northeastern India have relatively few numbers of species.

“The data clearly indicate that the biodiversity hotspots in India have been neglected and less explored. A greater proportion of the Indian landscape is yet to be surveyed systematically. This is one of the primary reasons for gaps in species distribution,” the researchers pointed out.

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