Sunday, 12 March 2017

New bird-eating tarantulas found in South America

By Lauren Tousignant March 10, 2017 | 3:23pm

Fantastic news for anyone who’s a fan of spiders that are capable of eating birds.

Three new bird-devouring tarantulas have been discovered in South America.

The discovery came as scientists were doing a massive overhaul of the classification system for Avicularias — large, hairy tarantulas that live in trees and eat small birds, insects and bats.

These types of tarantulas were first grouped in 1818 and included 49 different species. But the system was “a huge mess” according to Caroline Sayuri Fukushima, lead author of the study, published in ZooKeys.

Researchers cut the number of species in the Avicularias group from 49 to 12, adding in the three new ones. They created three new classifications — Ybyrapora, Caribena and Antillena — in which to place the misidentified species.

One of the new species, Avicularia merianae, was named after Maria Sybilla Merian, a German-born naturalist who drew a famous illustration of an Avicularia tarantula eating a bird in 1705.

“This illustration gave origin to the name of the genus and the popular name birdeater spiders,” Fukushima told Live “People [in] that time did not believe in her observations, saying that a spider eating a bird was a female fantasy.”

The Avicularia merianae lives in Peru and is 6.5 inches long. The second new species, Avicularia lynnae, lives in Ecuador and Peru is 4.2 inches long. Avicularia caei is the third new spider, which is almost 5 inches long and is only found in Pará, Brazil. 

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