SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Nine new species of colorful tree-dwelling tarantulas have been discovered in central and eastern Brazil.
According to UPI, the new discoveries bring the total number of tarantula species in the area to 16. The finds have been reported in Zookeys journal by Rogerio Bertani, a tarantula specialist from the Instituto Butantan in São Paulo.
“Instead of the seven species formerly known in the region, we now have sixteen,” Bertani said.
The new discoveries include the four smallest tree-dwelling tarantulas ever found, reported the Examiner. One of the species only lives in bromeliads, a type of flowering plant. Researchers have said the plant provides a home that is a source of water and protection from excessive heat.
“Only a single species had been known to live exclusively inside these plants, and now we have another that specialized in bromeliads as well,” Bertani added, according to LiveScience.
Bertani’s research showed that all the new species he discovered are highly specific to the regions where they were found and are endangered by human activities.
The Examiner also noted that the bright colors and size of the newly found tarantulas make them a prime target for illegal pet trade. Their discovery outside of the Amazon argues for an ancient genus.