Newly-found tarantula is Johnny Cash’s spider namesake

Washington D.C, Feb 5 (ANI): Meet the fist-sized tarantula with fearsome fangs that has been named in honour of the western music legend Johnny Cash.

Some 14 new tarantula species have been found in the US after a decade-long search, in which scientists looked at 3,000 specimens.

While these charismatic spiders have captured the attention of people around the world, and have been made famous by Hollywood, little was actually known about them. The new descriptions nearly double the number of species known from the region. Biologists at Auburn University and Millsaps College have described these hairy, large-bodied spiders.

Lead author Chris Hamilton said “We often hear about how new species are being discovered from remote corners of the Earth, but what is remarkable is that these spiders are in our own backyard. With the Earth in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, it is astonishing how little we know about our planet’s biodiversity, even for charismatic groups such as tarantulas.”

The results indicate there are 29 species in the United States, 14 of which are new to science. Of the new species, one has been named Aphonopelma johnnycashi after the influential American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash.

Hamilton coined the name because the species is found in California near Folsom Prison (famous for Cash’s song “Folsom Prison Blues”) and because mature males are generally solid black in coloration (paying homage to Cash’s distinctive style of dress where he has been referred to as the “Man in black”).

While the researchers found that most species are abundant and have relatively large distributions, they also noted that some have highly restricted distributions and may require conservation efforts in the not-so-distant future, as they lose their habitats due to climate change and human encroachment.

The study appears in the open-access journal ZooKeys. (ANI)

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