Discovery of New Spider Species in Meghalaya

Discovery of New Spider Species in Meghalaya

Gautam Kadam, in collaboration with Rishikesh Tripathi, discovered 12 new spider species, including four from Meghalaya, emphasizing the neglect of ground-dwelling spider families.

Discovery of Steriphopus wangala:

Gautam Kadam discovered a new species, Steriphopus wangala, in West Garo Hills, Meghalaya. This species is characterized by its reddish-brown color and powerful front legs, dedicated to the Garo community’s harvest festival.

Scientific Expedition:

The discovery was part of a scientific expedition by P.A. Sebastian Centre for Arachnology Research (PASCAR) and Centre for Animal Taxonomy and Ecology (CATE) in remote Meghalayan regions.

Taxonomic and Ecological Insights

Taxonomic Identification: The spider belongs to the Palpimanidae family, distinguished by its heavily sclerotized first pair of legs, aiding in field identification.

Genus Description: After lab analysis, it was confirmed as a new species in the Steriphopus genus of Palpimanidae, increasing the global count to five species, with two in India.

Conservation and Cultural Significance

Conservation Concerns: Rishikesh Tripathi highlighted threats like Jhum cultivation and road constructions to the species’ habitat.

Cultural Dedication: The species was named after the 100 Drums Festival, celebrating the Garo community’s Sun-God of fertility, marking the end of toil and onset of winter.

The Wangala Festival

Cultural Celebration: The Wangala Festival, spanning days, honors Saljong, the Sun-God, featuring vibrant costumes, feathered headgears, and rhythmic drum beats.

Dance and Music: Participants, young and old, engage in traditional dances accompanied by drums, gongs, and flutes, creating a memorable spectacle.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What is the name of the newly discovered spider species by Gautam Kadam?
    • A) Steriphopus saljong
    • B) Steriphopus wangala
    • C) Steriphopus garoensis
    • D) Steriphopus festivalensis
    • Answer: B) Steriphopus wangala
  2. Which family of spiders does the newly discovered species belong to?
    • A) Lycosidae
    • B) Palpimanidae
    • C) Zodariidae
    • D) Theraphosidae
    • Answer: B) Palpimanidae
  3. Who identified the species as belonging to the Steriphopus genus?
    • A) Gautam Kadam
    • B) Rishikesh Tripathi
    • C) Dr. Pradeep Sankaran
    • D) Dr. P.A. Sebastian
    • Answer: C) Dr. Pradeep Sankaran
  4. Which festival is the new spider species, Steriphopus wangala, dedicated to?
    • A) Onam
    • B) Wangala Festival
    • C) Diwali
    • D) Christmas
    • Answer: B) Wangala Festival
  5. What is a major threat to the habitat of Steriphopus wangala, according to Rishikesh Tripathi?
    • A) Urbanization
    • B) Deforestation
    • C) Jhum cultivation
    • D) Pollution
    • Answer: C) Jhum cultivation