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New tarantula species in Colombia named after Gabriel García Márquez

The new genus and species Kankuamo marquezi was discovered in the high area of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, near the municipality of Aracataca, homeland of Colombian Literature Nobel Laureate.

Bogotá D. C., 07 de julio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The tarantula discovered was named Kankuamo marquezi. (All photos: Courtesy of the interviewees)

The animal was discovered in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

It has unique morphological characteristics.

The urticating hair is ejected into predators.

The average size is close to 9 cms (3.5 in.).

The discovery was carried out by a group or Uruguayan and Colombian scientists including William Galvis, Researcher of the Arachnidology Group of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Natural Sciences Institute. 

The researchers decided to visit the higher areas of the Sierra Nevada as it has been the least researched and discovered the tarantula in the middle of the night at 2,200 meters (7,218 ft.) high in a cold and rainy area. 

The individual belongs to a species which apparently is endemic to the area. The spider has certain features that make it different from other previously known group. The scientist knew it belonged to a new genus because of its very particular morphological traits. 

The animal has a set of stingy hairs, a defense mechanism used by many American tarantulas. These hairs are normally ejected from the hind legs after they rub their abdomen and fly in the air to sting predators. 

One characteristic of this new species is that its urticating mechanism is produce by direct contact and hairs are ejected in form of a ball. 

During the research project published by http://zookeys.pensoft.net/ researchers explained that after several laboratory experiments they observed that these hairs were easily thrusted into the human skin and they break if they tried to remove them. 

Up to now only six types of these microscopic hairs were known and this one is now added to the list. 

The size of the body is around 3 cms. (1.18 in.) and the feet also reach this length; therefore the animal including the legs is approximately 9 cms (3.5 in.) long. 

In reference to roaming through the highest area of the mountain, Galvis said they visited this area because it is an important biological reserve, not only for Colombia but for the world. The new tarantula was discovered in an area known as San Lorenzo, near the settlement of Minca. 

For the Kankuamos and the Nobel Laureate 

The name Kankuamo marquezi stemmed from the idea of honoring the Amerindian Indians of the Chibcha family of the Colombian Caribbean known as the Kankuamos which are part of the remaining four Tayrona indigenous groups and which are in danger of extinction as their language and culture and practically lost. 

Additionally the scientists including Carlos Perefán of the Universidad de La República (Uruguay) and main author of the project is a fan of Gabriel García Márquez, also known in Latin America as Gabo so they decided to add the name of the writer to the new species. 

“We wanted to honor Gabo based on the fact that the tarantula is from the Province of Magdalena and near Aracataca, where Gabo was born,” said Perefán. 

When they discovered the spider there was one female and two males which usually are not accustomed on being together, so they speculate that maybe they were in the process of copulation. 

Despite the very hairy aspect, the tarantula is not aggressive and its discovery is key to continue researching arachnids of this very scarcely researched area of the country.

(Por: Fin/VC/MLA
)
N.° 64

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