SHILLONG: In a sensational discovery, a new species of jumping spider has been found in the tea estates of Meghalaya by a team of researchers from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
The newly identified species going by the name of Phintella Handersoni was discovered at the Anderson Tea Estate in the Khasi Hills which falls under Ri-Bhoi district in Meghalaya.
The nomenclature of this rare species originates from the late Handerson Syiemlieh, the owner of the tea estate.
This jumping spider belongs to the family Salticidae, the most diverse spider family in India with 315 described species under 104 genera.
These species are well-known for their sharp hunting skills, demonstrating stealth resembling a cat in stalking and pouncing onto its prey.
The genus Phintella, to which the new species belongs, is characterized by vibrant colors and metallic iridescent scales on small to medium-sized spiders.
These spiders typically have a rounded or oval head having a distinct posterior slope, and their abdomen shows light and dark horizontal bands. They are commonly found under leaves and barks of shrubs and grasses.
The research team has been led by Dr Souvik Sen from ZSI, Kolkata and it also included Dr. Sudhin P. P. from ZSI, Kolkata, and Dr. John T. D. Caleb from Saveetha University, Chennai.
Their findings were published in the January 2024 edition of the international scientific journal ‘Zoosystematics and Evolution’.
Meanwhile, the researchers stressed upon the importance of North-East India, particularly Meghalaya, as a global hot-spot for bio-diversity.
Rich indigenous flora and fauna can be found in this region and yet its spider fauna has not been explored largely.
This interesting discovery highlights the crucial role spiders play as natural enemies in agricultural ecosystems, especially in tea plantations, where they contribute to pest management by consuming large numbers of insect pests.