50 New Species Of Spiders Were Discovered In Australia In Two Weeks
A team of 23 researchers ventured recently to Australia’s spider capital – the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Here, they came across more than 50 previously unknown species of spiders over a period of two weeks. This area had never been properly surveyed before and which brought on one of the most impressive discoveries in the field as of yet.
“This was one of the largest numbers of species Bush Blitz has ever discovered during one expedition,” the researchers said in a statement. “Far-north Queensland can boast an extraordinary variety of spiders.”
These new species are now being properly classified by the team, making sure that they are, in fact, new and have not been documented by other researchers before. But given that there are at least 15,000 species of spiders in Australia yet to be discovered and officially classified, it is a fairly good chance that all of the 50 found here are completely new to science.
Among the spiders found during this expedition, there are species that are ant-eaters, those that elude their prey by mimicking their actions, tarantulas that scuba-dive, as well as jumping ones.
“Jumping spiders have a nice courtship behaviour: they dance for their women,” said biologist Barbara Baehr from the Queensland Museum.“I once described one after Mao’s Last Dancer because I had seen the ballet and it danced like that. There is a lovely side to spiders, there’s not just a terrible, dangerous side.”
With the help of the local rangers and a exceptional wet season, the team were able to come across new species of spiders every single day. Putting it like that, the entire area might just seem like a complete nightmare for those who are squeamish about spiders. But from an arachnologist’s perspective, it’s paradise.
“It’s so vibrant – so many spiders are out there,” said Baehr. “When you just cup leaf-litter together, it’s crazy.”
“Under one rock, down in a gully with a fresh-water spring pumping through, I found species from six arachnid orders,” arachnologist Robert Raven from the Queensland Museum told Australian Geographic. “It was absolutely spectacular to see all these six groups together.”