Andrew Snyder is a herpetologist, whose work involves scouring the rainforest floors and tree trunks looking for snakes, frogs, and lizards.
“When I am on expeditions, my research has me going out in the mornings and at night in search of amphibians and reptiles,” Snyder said. “Generally, the nocturnal searches are far more interesting, as there are a great number of other organisms that come out that are normally hiding during the day.”
Recently, he was hiking at night through the lush rainforest of Guyana, South America, when he shined his flashlight into the darkness on something bright blue.
“During this particular night, my light beam reflected back with a small glint of brilliant, cobalt blue sticking out of a small hole in a rotting stump,” Snyder wrote in a blog run by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), one of the organizations that help support his research. “At first I quickly dismissed it — surely it was just the eye shine coming from a spider. But something was different, and I must have been subconsciously aware. Something made me go back … And it is a good thing I did.”
Snyder discovered that this was not at all the cobalt blue eye of a spider, but it was in fact, a spider. That is, the blue was the shiny color of a wild tarantula’s delicate legs and body.
“I immediately knew that this one was unlike any species I have encountered before,” Snyder said.
Snyder needed to be sure, so he snapped several pictures and sent them to the perfect person: a colleague who specializes in tarantulas of Neotropical regions like this one.
“The excitement in his email response was beyond palpable,” Snyder said.
Snyder’s discovery is a new species of tarantula no one ever knew about before.
This is just one reason why preserving these fascinating rainforests is so important. Scientists like Snyder go into the woods and find some of nature’s most interesting creatures.
“Places like these remote rainforests still have so many secrets that haven’t been uncovered,” Snyder said. “Unfortunately, much of the world’s rainforests are being destroyed before biologists even get the chance to study them.”
Each animal plays a part in keeping these delicate ecosystems healthy. “While this tarantula, just like many of my study subjects, might not be everyone’s idea of ‘cute’ like other charismatic rainforest fauna, it doesn’t mean they are any less important,” Snyder said. “Ecosystems depend on all of their constituent parts in order to function properly, and these often-overlooked organisms are crucial to this balance.”
“I knew that this tarantula was something special,” Snyder added.
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