• Student researchers and Mumbai residents, Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza — both aged 23, have discovered two new species of a genus of trapdoor spiders from the southern Western Ghats.

  • The species, rutilofronis and nilgiriensis, were discovered by the duo in Tamil Nadu, from Maruthamalai in Coimbatore district and Kotagiri in Nilgiri district respectively, and belong to a genus of trapdoor spiders called Tigidia. 

  • This is the first occurrence of Tigidia in India, which was thought to be endemic to Madagascar and Mauritius, and is a probable Gondwana relic, which means those common between Indian and African subcontinents. 
  • Their findings suggest, like many studies before this, that India and Africa were part of the super continent Gondwanaland. “The Gondwana theory suggests that the Indo-Madagascar plate separated from Africa and shifted millions of years ago. The belief is that when it happened, India carried some lineages and forms from Africa which evolved here in isolation after the break-up and during the subsequent northward shift. 
  • Offering as proof, their findings show that Tigidia is closest to a genus called Pisenor found in Africa.