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New tarantula species from Angola with a unique "horn" on the back



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IMAGE: This is an individual of the newly described species ( Ceratogyrus attonitifer ) in defensive posture (typical of baboon spiders) in their natural habitat.
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Credit: Kostadine Luchansky

A novel species of tarantula with a peculiar horn-like prominence protruding from its back has recently been identified from Angola, a largely unexplored land located at the crossroads of several Afrotropic species ecoregions.

The project was compiled as part of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, which aims to uncover the undervalued biodiversity in the entire Okavango catchment area of ​​Angola, Namibia and Botswana. This paves the way for sustainable preservation of the area in the open access journal African Invertebrates by the team of Drs John Midgley and Ian Engelbrecht

published paper, although the new spider ( Ceratogyrus attonitifer sp.n. ) belongs to a group known as horned baboon spiders, the peculiar protuberance is not present in all species. Moreover, the structure of the other species ̵

1; where it is – is completely sclerotized, while the Angolan specimens have a soft and characteristically longer "horn". The function of the strange structure remains unknown.

The extraordinary morphology of the new tarantula has also given its name to the species: C. Attonitifer which differs from the Latin root attonite ("amazement" or "fascination") and the suffix -fer (" Carrier of "or" carrier ") derives. It points to the astonishment of the authors about the discovery of remarkable species.

"No other spider in the world has a similar foveal prominence," comment the newspaper's authors.

During a series of surveys between 2015 and 2016, researchers collected several female specimens from the Miombo forests in central Angola. To find them, the team usually spent the day tracking down pits that were often tucked between tufts of grass, but were sometimes in the open sand, and sampled during the night. Interestingly, when the researchers put an object into construction, the spiders were quick and eager to attack it.

The indigenous people of the region provided additional information about the biology and lifestyle of the baboon spider. Although the Arachnids were previously unknown and unknown to experts, they have long been called "chandachuly" among the local tribes. Thanks to their reports, information about the behavior of the animal was also noted. The tarantula tends to hunt for insects and the females can enlarge existing pits instead of digging their own. It is also said that the poison of the newly described species is not dangerous to humans, although there have been some deaths from infected bites which have not been treated due to poor medical access.

In summary, the researchers note that the discovery of the novel baboon spider from Angola not only significantly extends the known range of the genus, but can also serve as further evidence of the country's enormously unreported endemic fauna: [19659005] " The general lack of data on biodiversity in Angola is made clear by this example with Theraphosid spiders, which highlights the importance of collecting specimens at the borders of biodiversity. "

Apart from the described species, the study has produced two more potentially new species for science and extensions for other genera. However, the available material is not enough to formally diagnose and describe it.

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Original source:

Midgley JM, Engelbrecht I (2019) New records for Theraphosidae (Araneae, Mygalomorphae) in Angola, with description of a notable new species of Ceratogyrus . African invertebrates 60 (1): 1-13. https: / / doi. org / 10. 3897 / afrinvertebr. 60. 32141

Additional Information:

About Baboon Spider Atlas:

Author Ian Engelbrecht runs a Citizen Science project called Baboon Spider Atlas Discover and describe the diversity of baboon spiders in southern Africa, which is still largely unexplored and unknown. By bringing together experts and newcomers, the project aims to bring about a better appreciation for these amazing creatures and further steps towards their conservation.

To achieve this goal, the project focuses on capturing photographic records of wild baboon baboons' data on where and when they were seen and storing them in an online database. The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town and uses its virtual museum to store the data as part of the SpiderMap project. The ADU has a long and successful history of atlas projects, such as birds, reptiles, frogs and butterflies.

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