A wildlife YouTuber from Thailand discovered the first tarantula known to live exclusively in hollowed-out bamboo stems.
JoCho Sippawat, a YouTuber with 2.5 million subscribers and 1.9 million Facebook followers, found the previously unknown tarantula during a wilderness trip near his home in northwestern Thailand. according to a press release dated January 12†
Upon his return, Sippawat emailed a photo of the tarantula to arachnologist Narin Chomphuphuang, who studies spiders at Khon Kaen University. Chomphuphuang then embarked on a field trip, with Sippawat and fellow arachnologist Chaowalit Songsangchote, to confirm that the tarantula was previously undiscovered.
Researchers have determined that the spider belongs to a new genus and species. They named it Taksinus bambus, in honor of the 18th-century Thai king Taksin the Great.
“These animals are truly remarkable; they are the first known tarantulas with a bamboo-based ecology,” Chomphuphuang said in a blog post by pensoftthat publishes scientific journals.
Sippawat and Chomhuphuang did not immediately respond to NBC News’ interview request.
Tarantulas in Southeast Asia are either terrestrial, meaning they build nests by burrowing into the ground, or arboreal, meaning they live in trees. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Borneo are home to arboreal birds, but Taksinus is the first of its kind discovered in Thailand.
“This species is unique in that it is associated with bamboo, and we have never observed this tarantula species in any other plant,” Chomhuphuang said in a statement. press release† “Bamboo is important to this tarantula, not only in terms of lifestyle, but also because it is only found in high hill forests in northern Thailand, at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. It is no exaggeration to say that they are now Thailand’s rarest tarantulas.”
The recent discovery underscores the importance of preserving Thailand’s remaining forests, Chomphuphuang said.
“Few people realize how much of Thailand’s wildlife is undocumented,” Chomphuphuang said. “Thai forests now cover only 31.64 percent of the country’s total land area. We are primarily on a mission to research and save from extinction the biodiversity and wildlife in these forests, especially species-specific microhabitats.”