Scientists discover new electric blue tarantula species in Thailand forest

A new tarantula species with a curious dark blue hue has been found in southern Thailand.

Blue is one of the rarest colors to find in nature, which is why the coloring spotted on the Chilobrachys natanicharum is notable to scientists, according to research journal ZooKeys.

The blue-violet shade found on this tarantula most closely resembles the color emitted by electrical sparks.

The arachnid was collected from a Thai mangrove forest in the Phang-Nga province.

The "unique instance" of the blue color is merely a display of structural colors that have come to evolve with the species at least eight other times. Tarantulas tend to exhibit less iridescence but maintain the ability to reflect the hue in a specific narrow band of wavelengths.

In order to appear blue, the tarantula has to absorb very small amounts of energy while reflecting high-energy blue light, according to an article from EurekAlert!

The electric blue color comes from the presence of two types of hair found on the arachnid, metallic blue and violet specifically.

The hairs are present on various parts of the body, including the legs, chelicera, carapace. But how the color is distributed on the body depends on the sex of the spider, the journal states.

“The secret behind the vivid blue coloration of our tarantula lies not in the presence of blue pigments, but rather in the unique structure of their hair, which incorporates nanostructures that manipulate light to create this striking blue appearance,” lead scientist Dr. Narin Chomphuphuang of Khon Kaen University in Thailand wrote.

How did they find the electric blue spider?

After scientists discovered a different tarantula species living amidst the bamboo stalks last year, Chomphuphuang and a team of researchers decided to venture out into the jungle one more time to see what they could find, the EurekAlert! stated.

“Thanks to this discovery, we were inspired to rejoin the team for a fantastic expedition, during which we encountered a captivating new species of electric blue tarantula,” Chomphuphuang wrote.

The first electric blue spider the expedition team found was on a tree in the mangrove forest.

Since they live in hollow trees, the only way scientists could lure the spider out of the tree was by climbing it. They only managed to collect two spiders despite the search occurring in the evening and at night in low tide.

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What makes this find so special?

The two electric blue spider specimens that were collected were found in hollow trees.
The two electric blue spider specimens that were collected were found in hollow trees.

What makes this find particularly remarkable is that no documentation prior to this discovery noted its distinctive features or natural habitat. The species was only previously seen on the commercial tarantula market.

The electric blue tarantula demonstrates remarkable adaptability. These tarantulas can thrive in arboreal as well as terrestrial burrows in evergreen forests. However, when it comes to mangrove forests, their habitat is restricted to residing inside tree hollows due to the influence of tides,” according to Chomphuphuang.

It is one of the world’s rarest tarantulas.

Since the electric blue tarantula’s natural environment could face deforestation, Chomphuphuang has said preservation and conservation projects are essential in preventing further declines in the tarantula populations and to protect future generations.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Electric blue tarantula species discovered by scientists in Thailand