Back

An Ole Miss student might have just stumbled upon a new tarantula species

OXFORD, Miss. – A shiny cobalt blue gleamed in the beam of a flashlight sweeping through the evening darkness of the tangled rainforest in Guyana.

Holding the flashlight, University of Mississippi doctoral student Andrew Snyder walked closer to this brilliant blue source, lured by the curiosity twinkling from a small hole in a rotting tree stump.

What the biology major discovered is perhaps a new species of tarantula, one whose hairy legs and body are speckled with streaks of metallic-looking blue.

UM doctoral student Andrew Snyder has made 10 trips to Guyana for various research and conservation efforts. Submitted photo by Liz Condo

“Many jungle organisms give off eye shine, caused by the reflection of your beam of light off of a membrane in the eye, and typically with a characteristic color depending on the organism,” Snyder said. “The blue that my light beam illuminated in fact was not the eye shine of a spider, but rather the forelimbs of a small tarantula.

“I have spent years conducting surveys in Guyana and have always paid close attention to the tarantula species. I immediately knew that this one was unlike any species I have encountered before.”

Snyder, who is finishing his doctorate at Ole Miss this spring, had been trudging through the rainforest of the Potaro Plateau that evening in the spring of 2014. He had been conducting a survey of nocturnal amphibians and reptiles as the herpetologist for a joint conservation research team through Global Wildlife Conservation and World Wildlife Fund-Guianas.

Then the tarantula captured his eye. And there were more. The tree stump was pockmarked with holes, and several, if not all, housed a tarantula, each seemingly tolerating a neighboring tarantula.

“When I sent the images of the tarantula to an expert who specializes in neotropical tarantulas, he ecstatically proclaimed that this was 99 percent likely to be an undescribed species,” Snyder said.

An individual tarantula was collected and sent to experts for verification. The creature is awaiting its formal description, and the process might require a follow-up trip to the region to try to collect a few more samples. The tarantula’s discovery could be publicized only recently.

“For a species description, it is crucial to have multiple individuals, ideally both males and females, and across different age classes to account for sexual dimorphism and phenotypic variability (normal variability in external appearance within the same species),” Snyder said.

A return trip to Guyana, which hugs the North Atlantic coast of South America and contains some of the continent’s largest unspoiled rainforests, would not be unusual for Snyder. He’s been there 10 times.

The Baltimore native first journeyed to Guyana during the summer of 2011, weeks before he started graduate school at Ole Miss. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution from the University of Maryland.

Snyder’s scientific work in Guyana is as a herpetologist, a biologist who studies amphibians and reptiles, and his work is related to his doctoral research through collecting specimens and DNA samples. He’s also visited the country, which is slightly smaller than Idaho, on personal research trips, training programs and conferences.

He was last in Guyana in November to participate in a press release for the results of the Potaro expedition.

Snyder, who describes himself as a Ph.D. candidate, photographer, conservationist and naturalist, also served as an expedition photographer on the Guyana trips.

“While the data collected on these expeditions were valuable to my Ph.D. research, these expeditions were conservation expeditions,” he said. “We were exploring and surveying areas in Guyana that were lacking biodiversity data and facing certain conservation threats: logging, mining, etc.

“(My photography) documents the biodiversity, habitats and conservation threats, and communicates the research that we are doing throughout the country.”

After earning his Ph.D., Snyder hopes to continue his conservation research and photography, perhaps with a group such as the World Wildlife Fund or Global Wildlife Conservation. He wants to continue to contribute to science and conservation, and further public awareness of biodiversity and conservation efforts with his images.

Snyder’s passion for herpetology extends back to his childhood in Maryland; his parents allowed him certain exotic pets such as amphibians and reptiles. After receiving his bachelor’s, he spent two-and-a-half summers conducting amphibian and reptile surveys in Cusuco National Park in Honduras with the conservation group Operation Wallacea.

He credits the University of Mississippi and his professors and labmates for making him “an all-around better scientist and biologist.”

“Perhaps most importantly, I began to see the forest for the trees, if you will (while at UM),” he said. “I really began to understand the bigger picture of the work that I was doing or could do. My time at the University of Mississippi also led to so many valuable opportunities and collaborations that otherwise would have never happened.

“My labmates, the other graduate students specifically in the Noonan Lab with me, have been very instrumental in my development.”

The Noonan Lab at UM is headed by Brice Noonan, associate professor of biology and Snyder’s Ph.D. supervisor.

Snyder’s area of research is phylogeography, the study of the geographic distribution of lineages of species or closely related species and the processes responsible for shaping them. Snyder credits Noonan for his interest in phylogeography and his interest in performing research in Guyana.

After Snyder’s initial trip to Guyana, he and Noonan brainstormed projects while scanning through Google Earth to find areas for research, which is why Snyder has spent considerable time surveying the Kanuku Mountains in Guyana.

“Having focused much of my own graduate work in the Guianas I was elated to bring in a student with Andrew’s field experience and a genuine interest in exploring this poorly understood, yet remarkably intact region of the neotropics,” Noonan said. “Andrew has quickly become one of the foremost experts of the region’s reptiles and amphibians, and his extensive fieldwork in the region has greatly enhanced our understanding of all aspects of the area’s biodiversity, as evidenced by this tarantula discovery.”

The partnership between Noonan and Snyder at UM is not unique.

“Andrew Snyder is one of our talented Ph.D. students who work to discover new populations and new species,” said Gregg Roman, UM chair of and professor in biology. “The biology department at the University of Mississippi has many strengths in biodiversity and conservation research. Our graduate students work closely with their major professors and undertake expeditions around the world to learn the science and techniques of surveying and analyzing biodiversity.

“The identification of this new and blue tarantula within tree hollows will help conservationists draw attention to overlooked habitats within the forests.”

The Guiana Shield – a geological formation in northeast South America that underlies Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, most of Venezuela, as well as parts of Colombia and Brazil – is a special place for its phylogeographic value, Snyder said. An upland region leading up to the Guyanese border with Venezuela and Brazil, the Potaro Plateau is between the lowlands of the eastern Guiana Shield and the famed Guiana Highlands.

“The region is incredibly old and unique in just how much area is still unexplored and not affected by human impacts,” Snyder said. “From a research perspective, this allows for inferences to be made that are not influenced by human interaction as they are in other tropical areas where the habitats have been affected by deforestation.”

A developing country, Guyana has an abundant biodiversity that is challenged by the country’s richness of natural resources. A delicate balance needs to be struck between conservation and access to and extraction of the country’s natural resources with minimal environmental impact, Snyder said.

Discoveries such as the blue tarantula reinforce the importance of creating and maintaining that balance, said Leeanne E. Alonso, associate conservation scientist with Global Wildlife Conservation.

“Guyana has an amazing range of habitats and high diversity of species, especially for such a small country,” said Alonso, who has worked with Snyder for five years. “Discoveries such as this tarantula help us highlight that there’s so much rich diversity in Guyana, much of it still undiscovered, and all of it contributing to keeping the planet healthy. This tarantula helps to remind us all of the beauty of nature, and that we share this planet with so many interesting creatures.

“It’s intriguing to think about why these tarantulas are blue. Perhaps the color helps them startle predators or blend into the leaf litter. Such large predators must have an important role in the food web of the tropical forest.”

The blue tarantula, with its stunning color, also causes people to take another look at invertebrates and realize the importance of conserving them, Snyder said.

“Since this discovery, the amount of people who have commented, ‘I hate spiders, but this one is beautiful!’ is really telling,” he said. “Conservation starts with awareness.

“The fact that this tarantula is making people aware of the stunning biodiversity of this area is key. Guyana was so proud of this discovery that they actually painted a large mural of it on one of their walls at the Georgetown Zoo.”

By Shea Stewart, University of Mississippi 

Comments(50)

  • Pool

    September 3, 2018

    799231 588944You produced some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the difficulty and discovered most individuals will go coupled with along along with your internet site. 886619

  • russell h armstrong

    September 3, 2018

    31014 913669Some really marvellous function on behalf with the owner of this internet internet site , perfectly great content material . 763373

  • Metabolic stability

    September 4, 2018

    448835 845885Wohh exactly what I was looking for, appreciate it for posting . 822581

  • Pharmacokinetic Analysis

    September 4, 2018

    462771 213357Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and consist of almost all significant infos. Id like to see more posts like this . 391885

  • apoio informático

    September 5, 2018

    174420 251063Could it be okay to write several of this on my small web web site only incorporate a one way link to the web site? 331334

  • shemale.uk

    September 8, 2018

    657642 240989Will you care and attention essentially write-up most of the following in my webpage in essence your site mention of this blog? 891980

  • Pharmacokinetics Outsourcing

    September 10, 2018

    138739 929099Hi there, just became alert to your blog by means of Google, and found that its truly informative. Im gonna watch out for brussels. Ill be grateful should you continue this in future. A great deal of people will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers! 664968

  • PK in rats

    September 10, 2018

    227891 399827This really is a terrific website, could you be interested in doing an interview about just how you produced it? If so e-mail me! 869188

  • Camone.vn

    September 11, 2018

    56112 123744Id need to verify with you here. Which is not 1 thing I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a submit that will make individuals think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to remark! 504273

  • https://www.ninhbinhtours.com

    September 12, 2018

    833526 677928Generally I dont learn post on blogs, even so I wish to say that this write-up really pressured me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite wonderful post. 955479

  • useful source

    September 14, 2018

    300990 652979That being said by use it all, planet is actually restored just a little a lot more. This situation in addition will this particular Skin tightening and starting to be moved and into the mood of these producing activities. every day deal livingsocial discount baltimore washington 307716

  • lead gen in Australia

    September 18, 2018

    654525 390084Extremely fascinating topic , thanks for posting . 552749

  • Teen Chat Rooms

    September 19, 2018

    463252 57318Spot lets start work on this write-up, I actually believe this wonderful web site requirements additional consideration. Ill more likely be once once more you just read additional, thank you that data. 540398

  • HappierCitizens

    September 21, 2018

    122326 952896Awesome material you fellas got these. I truly like the theme for the internet site along with how you organized a person who. Its a marvelous job For certain i will come back and take a look at you out sometime. 565086

  • Free Teen Chat

    September 26, 2018

    37733 698006Excellent day! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing! 105274

  • Teen Chat Rooms

    September 26, 2018

    183697 477840As I web site owner I believe the articles here is really amazing , thankyou for your efforts. 822441

  • 680436 730930Excellent post, I feel web site owners should acquire a great deal from this internet web site its very user pleasant. 267182

  • 오피스타

    September 29, 2018

    231990 808550I dont normally have a look at these types of internet sites (Im a pretty modest person) – but even though I was a bit shocked as I was reading, I was surely a bit excited as well. Thanks for producing my day 765041

  • Arborpestcontrol.net

    October 3, 2018

    647328 775052What platform and theme are you employing if I may possibly ask? Exactly where can I buy them? x 326937

  • minecraft

    October 4, 2018

    Excellent way of telling, and fastidious paragraph to obtain information about my
    presentation focus, which i am going to convey in college.

  • 網頁設計經驗

    October 5, 2018

    社交媒體行銷

  • Venus Legacy

    October 6, 2018

    激光是單一波段的光能 , 在同一時間發射 , 光線能量較為集中 , 能深入皮膚打擊患處之異常色素或血管 , 溫和地刺激皮膚內的骨膠原更生, 新生的骨膠原令您的膚質光澤柔嫩 , 煥然一新 , 抗老效果顯著。有效治療色斑(雀斑 , 太陽斑 , 咖啡斑 , 太田痣 , 紋身) , 血管問題 (葡萄色斑 , 微絲血管擴張) , 膚色不均 , 皮膚鬆弛 , 毛孔粗大 治療後皮膚會出現短暫的紅腫 , 要注意防曬及遵照醫生指示護理皮膚

  • 皮膚科

    October 6, 2018

    提供生活日常中的防曬護理,抗氧化及提供完美的遮瑕,也可以做為妝前打底。

  • cpanel hosting

    October 6, 2018

    18983 392982This article contains fantastic original thinking. The informational content here proves that things arent so black and white. I feel smarter from just reading this. 264763

  • 202294 869882I believe this site contains some really amazing information for every person : D. 622172

  • 來自瑞士的Teosyal®透明質酸,是由世界第三大以透明質酸為基礎的TEOXANE藥廠研發。Teosyal ®Redensity II® 是專門為眼部肌膚而設計的透明質酸。屬於半鏈結透明質酸的Redensity II® ,輕微吸濕力可減少水腫。 半鏈結透明質酸的柔軟度較高,於注射之後不會產主粒狀問題。可撫平中度皺紋,主要用於淚溝、額紋、手部填充、木偶紋、豐唇、耳珠、太陽穴、人中、面頰填充、虎紋

  • minecraft free download 2018

    October 11, 2018

    That is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  • link

    October 12, 2018

    450068 305683This internet website is often a walk-through rather than the details you wanted about it and didnt know who ought to. Glimpse here, and youll definitely discover it. 264645

  • 瑜伽

    October 12, 2018

    控油,讓肌膚保持無油光的霧面質感。

  • 101 Ideas: KOL最愛白恤衫,文青變女神 Marie Claire (HK) Edition Shirtdress Theory 要stylish又文青的星級打扮,與名模Gigi Hadid及名媛KOL Olivia Palermo開始在同一起跑點上,一件簡單又接地氣的白裇衫及恤衫裙,是

  • check here

    October 14, 2018

    I simply want to mention I am very new to blogging and site-building and truly liked your page. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really come with superb well written articles. Bless you for revealing your web-site.

  • shu uemura 植村秀 【眼部彩妝】限量Mika迷你眼彩筆 drawing pencil mini trio的商品介紹 shu uemura 植村秀,眼部彩妝,限量Mika迷你眼彩筆 drawing pencil mini trio

  • John Deere Repair Manuals

    October 16, 2018

    Oh my goodness! an excellent post dude. Thanks a ton Nevertheless We’re experiencing trouble with ur rss . Do not know why Unable to register for it. Will there be everyone getting identical rss difficulty? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 17, 2018

    It is actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I¡¦m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 17, 2018

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 17, 2018

    I savour, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be taking a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 18, 2018

    You really make it appear so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually one thing that I feel I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely large for me. I am looking forward to your subsequent post, I¡¦ll try to get the grasp of it!

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 18, 2018

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 18, 2018

    You are a very bright individual!

  • Travel & Leisure

    October 18, 2018

    Keep functioning ,great job!

  • 真的沒騙你!早晚光做好這4件事一個月就見效果 身材變好、臉白一度沒難度 Marie Claire (HK) Edition 一個女生而言,最重要的莫過於就是身材要好,皮膚要白滑剔透,這兩個目標說是容易,但其實要維持身材、要減肥、美白等等都是一輩子需要努力的課題,並不是那麼一時三刻的事!但原來只要平常做好這4件事,一個月已經

  • fantastic issues altogether, you simply won a emblem new reader.

    What may you recommend about your publish that you simply made
    a few days in the past? Any sure?

  • LISSAGE 【BASE MAKE】カラーメインテナイザー NⅠ的商品介紹 LISSAGE,BASE MAKE,カラーメインテナイザー NⅠ

  • 100有機潤唇膏 雙頭磨沙滋潤豐唇膏 滋潤豐唇蜜 亮彩保濕口紅 亮彩保濕唇蜜 持久亮麗雙頭唇彩 唇線筆 唇膏筆 抗炎作用原理:內環境平衡,增強陰道內免疫力 CO2可本質的改變組織特性,使粘膜組織新生 陰道上皮細胞功能增強,大量糖原在陰道桿菌作用下分解成乳酸,逐步恢復陰道正常的PH值 免疫力增強,降低私密處感染

  • Home Warranty

    October 21, 2018

    I am also commenting to make you be aware of of the amazing encounter our girl went through browsing your webblog. She even learned many pieces, not to mention how it is like to have an amazing coaching character to get other people with ease understand selected impossible subject areas. You truly surpassed my desires. Many thanks for churning out those useful, dependable, educational and cool tips about the topic to Sandra.

  • Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  • Homeserve

    October 22, 2018

    I have been browsing online more than three hours these days, yet I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It¡¦s lovely worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the web will be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  • Home Warranty

    October 22, 2018

    I’ve been browsing online greater than three hours these days, yet I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is beautiful price enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet can be much more helpful than ever before.

  • Homeserve

    October 22, 2018

    My husband and i ended up being joyous Louis could deal with his preliminary research using the ideas he had in your site. It’s not at all simplistic to just find yourself making a gift of secrets and techniques which often many others have been trying to sell. We really recognize we have got the blog owner to be grateful to for that. Most of the explanations you made, the straightforward web site menu, the friendships you will give support to promote – it’s everything overwhelming, and it’s really making our son and the family understand this idea is brilliant, and that’s incredibly indispensable. Many thanks for the whole thing!

  • Great – I should definitely say I’m impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related info. The site ended up being truly easy to access. Excellent job.

Post a Comment