NEW YORK — Entomologists in Thailand have been stunned by an electrifying new species of tarantula found in the southern part of the country.
The spider, known as the Chilobrachys natanicharum, has a "blue-violet hue resembling the color of electrical sparks," researchers from the Entomology Museum at Khon Kaen University and the Natural History Museum of the National Science Museum said in a paper announcing the find. They called the tarantula's rare color an "enchanting phenomenon."
"The blue coloration in animals is a fascinating and relatively rare phenomenon in nature," researchers said. "Blue color in tarantulas is a unique instance of structural colors that evolved independently at least eight times."
The new species' name was chosen in a nationwide auction. The creature is named after the executives of Nichada Properties Co. Ltd., a real estate company.
Photos show that the spider has blue-purple hair on its legs and body. The coloring on the legs is "unique" and "iridescent," researchers said. Female spiders and young male spiders of the species have "more violet than metallic-blue hairs," while on male spiders, the bright blue color is more prominent. However, it's "less intense than in females."
Researchers said the spider seems to live within Thailand's southern mangrove forests. The arachnids live inside tree hollows there. The spiders may also live in evergreen forests. However, habitat destruction and the hunting of tarantulas has impacted the species: All tarantulas in Thailand are considered controlled wildlife in the country, and researchers emphasize the need to conserve and protect the species and their habitats.