A team of students from IP University, led by a professor from the university’s School of Environmental Management have discovered a new species of spider in Delhi’s Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. The students have named it Stenaelurillus jagannathae after Lord Jagannath due to its unique colour pattern which resembles the Hindu deity’s face.
“In this age of global warming and climate change, when extinction of species is at its peak, the discovery of a new spider species in urban Delhi is fascinating. It proves that there is an urgent need to document biodiversity in every area before they vanish, for which the study of taxonomy as a discipline is critical,” said Professor Sanjay Keshri Das, who is an assistant professor at the university’s School of Environmental Management.
The students’ findings have been published in the International Journal of Science and Research and endorsed by the World Spider Catalog (WSC) — the only such database, maintained by the Natural History Museum, Bern in Switzerland.
“By virtue of lying on the foot of the Aravalli hills, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary has a unique biodiversity. This spider, Stenaelurillus jagannathae, is one of them. We found it inhabiting leaf litter and decaying logs throughout the sanctuary, it is amazing how it went unnoticed for this long,” said Bhoopender Prasad Vidhel, one of the students.
The male S. Jagannathae is 3.75 millimetre in length while the female one is almost double that, at 6.5 mm.
“We noticed this spider due to its unique colour pattern, three white spots on the abdomen and several white lines. It resembled Lord Jagannath’s face and hence we named it after the deity,” said Shubhi Malik, another student. “The spider, is also an active day-time predator, feeding on ants, termites, ticks and other such insects. It also runs very fast and is known to make long jumps, so some people call it the jumping spider,” Malik added.
The study was carried out by GGSIPU students Bhoopender Prasad Vidhel and Shubhi Malik, mentored by Das, besides Senior Scientific Officer of Delhi government, Dr B C Sabata.
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