Meet the Indian “Spider-Man” Who Introduced Six New Species of Spiders to the World

Dhruv Prajapati was awarded the Young Naturalist Award 2016 by Sanctuary Asia for his seminal research on spiders – a great contribution to biodiversity exploration in India.

From the hostel rooms of Gujarat University to the thick forests of Western Ghats, Dhruv Prajapati has been curiously looking for spiders — creatures many of us are scared of. Little do we realize that these arachnids that we dust away from our houses every weekend are carriers of the environment’s most important messages.

“Spiders are indicators of high levels of heavy metal pollution in the air. If you find arid region specific spiders thriving in a forest, you can predict that the forest is facing the threat of drying out. Some spiders are found across continents indicating how our continents were connected millions of years ago. The elasticity of spider silk is being leveraged to make bullet proof jackets. And spiders are also important in the field of modern medicine,” says Dhruv who is among the very few naturalists in India who are researching on spiders.

He adds, “Spiders are the lenses through which we can see the past and the future and researching them is crucial to know the pulse of our environment.”

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Dhruv was always a naturalist at heart who chose to specialise in Zoology out of his keen interest in the field. When he had to decide on his dissertation topic for his MSc, Dhruv was particularly attracted by spiders. He started looking for them at Gujarat University, where he was studying and happened to identify 77 different species of spiders. He then went on to identify six new species of, one of which he chose to name after our former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam – Tropizodium Kalami.

He reported these new species from India for the first time, all from the state of Gujarat. These species had not been reported from anywhere else in the world.

The six new species that Dhruv reported are - Tropizodium viridurbium, Stenaelurillus gabrieli (jumping spiders), Stenaelurillus digitus (jumping spiders), Cambalida tuma (ant mimicking spiders), Cambalida deorsa (ant mimicking spiders) and Tropizodium Kalami.
The six new species that Dhruv reported are – Tropizodium viridurbium, Stenaelurillus gabrieli (jumping spiders), Stenaelurillus digitus (jumping spiders), Cambalida tuma (ant mimicking spiders), Cambalida deorsa (ant mimicking spiders) and Tropizodium Kalami.

This unique interest has won the young researcher the Young Naturalist Award 2016 by Sanctuary Asia, one of India’s most prestigious wildlife awards. Dhruv is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Sacred Hearts College, Thevara, Kerala and is researching spider varieties in the Western Ghats. Dhruv is incredibly passionate about his study and wants to travel across the country to explore his eight-legged friends.

You can contact him at [email protected]

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