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Wednesday, September 5

Cryptothela Sundaica, a rare spider spotted after 122 years from India

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After a gap of some 122 years, a rare spider has been reportedly spotted from India since it was first recorded by a British Spider Researcher in 1890. 

Cryptothela Sundaica
Cryptothela Sundaica
Image Copy Right Sudhikumar
According to A V Sudhikumar, an Arachnologist with the Zoology Department of Christ College Irinjalakkuda in the South Indian state of Kerala, his team has found the rare spider Cryptothela Sundaica, from the forest patches of Thommankuthu waterfall near Thodupuzha in Idukki district.

The spider was earlier reported by British Archnologist R F Pocock in 1890s from Udagamandalam in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, the earlier report was about a male member of the species while the new record is about a female one. 

A Cryptic spider
According to Sudhikumar, the genus is called ‘Cryptothela’, for their cryptic nature which always hides them from the eyes of the researchers. The spider, with the size of a small beetle, according to the researcher, is mud coloured and is difficult to distinguish from the surroundings since it is often found amidst dead and decaying leaves. 

However, the researchers were lucky this time since the spider they have spotted at Thommankuthu was a female carrying a triangular, white egg sac over her. 

Living on a diet of worms and insects, Cryptothela Sundaica has many tricks to avoid attackers. “If disturbed, it exhibits catalepsy (acting like dead when disturbed)”, says Sudhikumar. 

According to the researcher, the finding may be shortly published at the journal of Journal of Arachnology published by American Arachnological Society. 

The new spotting is very important as organisms not recorded for a period of 100 years are usually considered extinct. However, there are hardly any scientific studies conducted on the species in the recent past. 

According to Wikipedia, Cryptothele is a genus of spiders which comes under Zodariidae family of spiders. Cryptothele has ten described species of spiders including Cryptothela Sundaica. It also shows that the species was also reported by Tamerlan Thorell from Singapore in 1890s and has two sub species.


  1. "After a gap of some 122 years, a rare spider has been reportedly spotted from India since it was first recorded by a British Spider Researcher in 1890"

    The above claim does not seem to be correct. The same spider has been described in the book "Spiders of India" by Sebastian and Peter with a photograph (Page 179 and Plate 48)

  2. Thanks Mr. sathish Kumar, for your comment.
    what you said is true. Spiders of India by P. A. Sebastian & K. V. Peter do have a page and plate on the species.

    But we were not able to confirm the year of the photograph in the book.

    Being said that, we are not able to confirm the veracity of the claim of finding the spider after 122 years either -from a peer review of the finding- as the paper is yet to published by the Journal of Arachnology(as claimed by the researcher). We just reported the claim made by the researcher, in line with the mainstream media, of course, with no scientific proof at all.

    So at present, we agree with your comment -the claim may not be correct. We will be updating the report as soon as the journal publishes the paper.

    Meanwhile, please let us know any comments and suggestions.

    Thank you.
    Indian Biodiversity Talks


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