Thai YouTuber JoCho Sippawat has discovered a unique new species of tarantula in the Tak province of his home country. The species, Taksinus bambus, is a mix of rich black and soft white, and is unique for its dwelling solely on and inside of bamboo plants. Where it likes to create its own silken retreat.
Gizmodo picked up on the discovery of the new species, which scientists outlined in a study recently published in the journal ZooKeys. Sippawat, who has nearly 2.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, collaborated with arachnologists Dr. Narin Chomphuphuang and Mr. Chaowalit Songsangchote for the study.
“This species is unique because it is associated with bamboo, and we have never observed this tarantula species in any other plant,” Chomphuphuang said in a blog post. “Bamboo is important to this tarantula, not only in terms of lifestyle but also because it can only be found in high hill forests in the northern part of Thailand, at an elevation of about [3,300 feet].”
Chomphuphuang adds in the blog post that this is the first case of a genus of tarantula showing a preference for the insides of bamboo stalks. Arachnologists have been aware of two types of tarantula in Southeast Asia; those that are terrestrial and those that are arboreal. While T. bambus is indeed arboreal—it, like other arboreal species, thrives amongst the trees—it’s the first of its kind to prefer a single type of tree.
“These animals are truly remarkable; they are the first known tarantulas ever with a bamboo-based ecology,” Chomphuphuang adds. Sippawat found the first specimens of the new species in Asian bamboo stalks; within their own little silk-lined tubular burrows inside either the bamboo’s branch stubs or culms. (The culm is the jointed, hollow stem of a bamboo plant.)
Although the new tarantula species is certainly at home inside of bamboo stalks, it cannot bore into them. Instead, the tarantulas depend upon the assistance of other animals. A variety, according to Chomphuphuang, including the bamboo borer beetle; the bamboo worm; and the bamboo-nesting carpenter bee. Which is enough bamboo species to make one wonder: How is there any bamboo out there in Thailand still standing at all?
Feature image: JoCho Sippawat