Dazzling blue tarantula discovered in South America

Scientists have discovered a stunning blue tarantula among a host of new species in South America.

Researchers uncovered more than 30 species that are likely new to science during a month-long survey at the Kaieteur National Park (KNP) and the Upper Potaro area in Guyana. In addition to the tarantula, other newly discovered species include a frog, dragonflies and beetles, according to the report from the World Wildlife Fund Guianas, The University of Guiana, and the Protected Areas Commission and Global Wildlife Conservation.

The second in a series of reports on Guyana’s rich biodiversity, the study highlights the region’s importance for conservation. The survey took place in March 2014, with experts noting that many species found were unique to the area.

World Wildlife Fund/Global Wildlife Conservation Biodiversity Assessment Team 2-Potaro Plateau

Local communities heavily rely on healthy rivers and forests of the Kaieteur and Upper Potaro area in Guyana for their wellbeing.  (Andrew Snyder)

“Fifteen percent of fishes the team collected were endemic to the Potaro River drainage, while many of its birds, amphibians and mammals have restricted home ranges found only in the Guiana Highlands and the Guiana Shield,” explained Global Wildlife Conservation in a statement.

Described as the “greenhouse of the world,” the Guiana Shield is a vast rock formation spanning part of northeast South America. In addition to Guyana, the shield underlies Suriname, French Guiana and Venezuela, as well as parts of Brazil and Colombia. The higher elevation areas on the shield are known as the Guiana Highlands.

World Wildlife Fund/Global Wildlife Conservation Biodiversity Assessment Team 2-Potaro Plateau

Forests and rivers of the Kaieteur.  (Andrew Snyder)

“Guyana is one of the world’s most important countries for biodiversity conservation, with the second highest percentage of forest cover on Earth, high levels of biological diversity and species that are found nowhere else,” said Global Wildlife Conservation. “Historically, Guyana’s biodiversity was naturally protected due to low human population density and the fact that much of the country was inaccessible.”

Last year scientists announced the discovery of seven new animal species in Bolivia, which include three frogs, three lizards and a catfish.

Also last year, a World Wildlife Fund report highlighted the discovery of 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia, including a ‘Klingon Newt.’