Researchers come across a new giant spider

Rare species discovered in Australia

She lurks under a trapdoor: Researchers come across a new giant spider

Australian giant spider in a jar.

Anyone who googles spiders in Australia will come across disturbing information. Because on the fifth continent lives with the male funnel web spider not only the most poisonous spider in the world. A number of other spider species also have potent venoms that can make people seriously ill or even kill them if they bite them. However, most of these creepy-crawlies hide in the ground, and humans rarely encounter them.

The latter may also explain why a giant spider, one of the so-called trapdoor spiders, has so far remained hidden from researchers. The new and rare species that the scientists Euoplos dignitas was found hidden west of Brisbane under – as its name suggests – a trapdoor made of cobwebs and earth.

Size gave inspiration for names

The newly discovered giant spider, whose females can live for over 20 years in the wild, has been tracked down by researchers at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. The scientists are working on a project called Dig, which has been running for four years, and aims to learn more about Queensland’s biodiversity. The scientists published their new find in the journal “Journal of Arachnology”.

The scientists were particularly impressed by the new species of spider because of its impressive size. The females can reach a body length of up to five centimetres. The latter also gave the suggestion for their name: Euoplos dignitas derives from the Latin “dignitas,” meaning “dignity” or “greatness,” according to Michael Rix, curator of arachnology at the Queensland Museum. The name reflects “the impressive size and nature of the spider,” said the researcher.

Australian spider find: Euoplos dignitas, here a female of the spider species that lives under trapdoors.

Australian spider find: Euoplos dignitas, here a female of the spider species that lives under trapdoors.

Hidden behind a trap door

Like many other Australian spiders, the female spiders spend most of their lives underground. The males, on the other hand, are more active: They leave the burrow after five to seven years to find a new partner in another burrow. During the day, the trapdoor under which the spiders live is closed. At night, on the other hand, the spider sits just under the ajar door, waiting to snatch insects.

The spiders use poison to catch their prey, but the animals cannot harm humans with a bite. This distinguishes them from the notorious funnel web or redback spiders, whose bite can even lead to death without an antidote. The new species, on the other hand, is very useful: according to the researchers, it plays an important role in the ecosystem of fallen leaves and helps control insect populations.

... and here a male of the spider species discovered in Queensland.

… and here a male of the spider species discovered in Queensland.

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Probably already endangered

So far, the spider species has only been found in a relatively small area. Apparently it has already lost a large part of its habitat due to deforestation. That makes them “probably an endangered species,” said the scientist. However, more work needs to be done to say how serious the situation really is for the animals.

Australia is one of the continents where new animal species are still being discovered. In February, other scientists published how they encountered three previously unknown species of spiders during an expedition in the Australian Alps: a giant crab spider with some kind of “war paint” on its legs, a jumping spider measuring just three millimeters in size, and a coil spider , disguised as a branch.

In March, researchers also presented a new Australian gecko species. They had discovered the previously unknown species on an uninhabited island off Australia. The little lizard, which sports a spiky, leaf-shaped tail, has a beautiful “beak face”. The latter makes the reptile look a bit like a small dragon.

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