(Photo credit left: Caroline Fukushima; center and right: Rogerio Bertani/ Instituto Butantan)
Name: Pterinopelma sazimai
Common Name: Sazima’s Tarantula
How it made the Top 10: Not only is this iridescent blue tarantula breathtakingly beautiful, it is the first new animal species from Brazil to have made it to the Top 10. Brazil is one of the planet’s most biologically diverse nations and is consistently a major source of species discoveries including much of Brazil's Amazon basin, its Atlantic forest, the savanna ecoregion Cerrado, and the hotspots of Brazil’s tropical Andes. Survival of tarantula species can be at risk due to loss of habitat and over-collecting for the pet trade. Although Pterinopelma sazimai is not the first blue tarantula, it is one of the most striking and may be especially vulnerable because of its limited distribution in an “ecological island” – a habitat high upon tabletop mountains which have a greater rainfall and different soils than the immediately surrounding area.
Etymology: sazimai is named in honor of Dr. Ivan Sazima “an important Brazilian zoologist who was the first researcher to collect exemplars of this species in the decades of 1970 and 1980. These specimens remained as the sole exemplars of the species known for a long time.”
Type Material: Holotype – Museu de Zoologia da Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas; paratypes - Museu de Zoologia da Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas and the Instituto Butantan, São Paulo.
Type Locality: Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil
Reference: Bertani, R., Nagahama, R.H. & Caroline Sayuri Fukushima, C.S. (2011). Revalidation of Pterinopelma Pocock 1901 with description of a new species and the female of Pterinopelma vitiosum (Keyserling 1891) (Araneae: Theraphosidae: Theraphosinae). Zootaxa 2814: 1–18.