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A Blue Spider?!

Scientists found a tarantula with bright blue markings!

Side by side photos of a tarantula with bright blue markings in front of a white background.

Chomphuphuang N., Sippawat Z., Sriranan P., Piyatrakulchai P., Songsangchote C./ZooKeys

Two views of Chilobrachys natanicharum’s bright blue markings.

Scientists were exploring a mangrove forest in Thailand when they came across a bright blue tarantula. The species has been named Chilobrachys natanicharum.

Scientists say the species can live on the ground or in trees. But in mangrove forests, which are wetlands, the tarantulas are limited to living in hollow trees. Hoping to study the blue spiders, the team of researchers climbed the trees and tried to lure some out. They were able to catch only two.

C. natanicharum, also called the electric blue tarantula, had been sold in commercial markets before but is just now being documented by scientists. Its color is one reason the species is so special.

“Blue is one of the rarest colors to appear in nature, which makes blue coloration in animals particularly fascinating,” entomologist Narin Chomphuphuang told CNN.

The blue tarantula’s color doesn’t come from pigment, which is what produces the color of human skin or hair. Instead, it’s caused by the makeup of tiny hairs on the tarantula’s body. Tiny structures in the hair manipulate the light that shines on them. In addition to the blue, the spiders can also have some violet coloring.

Scientists say C. natanicharum is one of the world’s rarest tarantulas, and they’re concerned about its future. The mangrove forests where the species was found are rapidly being cut down.

Did You Know?

John/snakecollector (CC BY 2.0)

Can a spider eat a bird? A spider that’s as large as a dinner plate can. The goliath bird-eating spider, a tarantula species, is the largest spider in the world. It can reach 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter.

In addition to small birds, this massive spider feasts on mice, lizards, snakes, bats, and insects.

Look, But Don’t Touch!

A bright blue speckled frog

© Ethan Kocak/Dreamstime.com

Blue is so rare in nature that anything blue tends to stand out. The blue poison dart frog’s eye-catching color makes it look like it was dipped in a can of paint. Since this South American rainforest species is active during the day, it might seem weird that it’s not designed to blend in with its surroundings. 

How does the frog protect itself? That bright blue coloring sends a message to hungry predators: keep your distance. And for good reason! The frog’s skin secretes a poison that can paralyze or even kill anything that tries to eat it.

The poison comes from eating extremely poisonous ants. Amazingly, frogs that are in captivity are harmless because they’re fed crickets and other insects that contain no poison.

Kind of Cute?

© Bryan and Wendy Mullennix—Verve+/Getty Images

Tarantulas may look a little creepy, but they’re actually pretty mellow. While these spiders do have fangs and venom (so they can kill their prey), most species pose no danger to humans.

Learn more about tarantulas at Britannica.

WORD OF THE DAY

anomaly

PART OF SPEECH:

noun

Definition:

: something that is unusual or unexpected

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