Still finding spiders

By Country News on April 30, 2017
  • Still finding spiders

    The potency of the venom carried by a new species of funnel-web spider discovered in the Tasmanian wilderness remains a mystery.

The potency of the venom carried by a new species of funnel-web spider discovered in the Tasmanian wilderness remains a mystery.

Slightly smaller than the average Tasmanian funnel-web, the eight-legged find is being hailed as a breakthrough by researchers at Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum.

‘‘We don’t know how venomous because this is a new species and we don’t know if anyone has been bitten before,’’ team member John Douglas said.

The spider has been dubbed the Blue Tier funnel-web for now, in a nod to the north-east forest reserve where it was found.

It is one of up to 30 previously unidentified specimens assessed by researchers at the museum during the past 18 months.

While the females of the species are thought to remain mostly hidden, the males are more likely to wander and Mr Douglas hopes to have a chance to learn more about their lives.

‘‘They might be gruesome, but they are beautiful creatures and we should look after them,’’ he said.

Tasmanian researchers will call in global specialists to help officially document and name the new species, museum Natural Sciences curator David Maynard said.

‘‘Our collection is the envy of museums across Australia,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve found between 20 and 30 undescribed species of spider. That will probably freak a few people out, because it’s 2017 and many people think we are quite familiar with the animals and insects that live in Tasmania.’’

Mr Maynard believes there are many more new species to be discovered.

By Country News on April 30, 2017

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