A very special duo
They discovered that tarantulas first emerged in what is now America, about 120 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. At that time, South America would be linked to Africa, India and Australia as part of the supercontinent of Gondwana. and these reached the rest of the continents due to continental drift, but it seems that their scope goes beyond pure luck. And yes, a time when we can imagine dinosaurs alongside these furry eight-legged creaturesbecause dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.
The experts found that the colonization of Asia occurred with two lineages of tarantulas, indicating that tarantulas are better dispersers than we thought. Both emerged in the Indian subcontinent before it joined Asia, one through the treetops and one over land.
“Previously, we did not consider tarantulas to be good dispersers,” Foley comments. “While continental drift certainly played a role in its history, the two Asian colonization events encourage us to reconsider this narrative. The microhabitat differences between these two lineages also suggest that tarantulas are adept at exploiting ecological niches, at the same time that they show signs of niche conservation., the two lineages also appear to be ecologically divergent. “
These results suggest that the evolutionary adaptation of these dreaded spiders also played a very important role for their geographical spread and not just continental drift.
“Perhaps these radiations can be attributed to an ancient change in lifestyle that each ecologically distinct subfamily becomes successful by exploiting different ecological niches, “the authors explain.