World’s Critically Endangered Spiders

Spiders may be one of the most prolific creatures in the world. Despite this ability to repopulate rapidly, some species of spiders have been identified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN. Creatures under this category face higher risk of extinction than those under endangered category.

There are several species of spiders classified as endangered, but there are only two as critically endangered. These two spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria which is actually a group of arboreal tarantula. The name is derived from Greek “poikilos”, meaning spotted, and “therion”, meaning wild beast. These tarantulas are known for their vivid color patterns, fast movement, and potent venom compared to other tarantulas. They are native to Sri Lanka and India.

Specifically, the two species are P. metallica and P. hanumavilasumica. Here are some descriptions of these two spiders.

Gooty Sapphire

Under scientifically as Poecilotheria metallica, the Gooty Sapphire is a species of tarantula with metallic blue color. It has other names like Gooth Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider, Metallic Tarantula, Peacock Parachute Spider, Peacock Tarantula, Salepurgu.  It has an intricate fractal-like pattern on its abdomen. It measures between 6-8 inches when fully grown.  It is native in Southeastern India and Sri Lanka. The spider was first discovered in the town of Gooty in central southern India, hence, its name. (image source)

Like other tarantulas, Gooty spiders live in holes of tall trees where they make their funnel web. Their diet consists of various flying insects which they catch manually and not in the web. Although there have been no recorded human death from the tarantula bite, the venom of this spider may cause intense pain, and thus, could be medically significant. They can move rapidly and defend themselves when cornered. (image source)
 

These spiders have high price, with adults sometimes pricing above $500 in the USA. Prices can vary in other locations, particularly Europe. Gender also affects the price as females live longer (about 12 years) than males (about 3-4 years).

Rameshwaram Ornamental

Otherwise known as Rameshwaram Parachute Spider, the Rameshwaram Ornamental (scientific name: Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica) was first discovered in 2004 by Andrew Smith in a sacred grove of the Hanumavilasum Temple on Rameshwaram Island. There were several misidentifications of this spider earlier. (image source)

The Critically Endangered status of the spider is due to restricted distribution, and continuing decline in area, quality, populations and mature individuals. There are eight subpopulations have in 13 severely fragmented locations, which 4 to 78 individuals per area. As these spiders prefer to inhabit tamarind trees, the densities are high in some tamarind plantations compared to casuarina or palm plantations. (image source)

Read "World’s Critically Endangered Spiders" at Triond.

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