Queensland Museum researchers discover 48 new Australian spiders

A study by Queensland Museum has uncovered 48 new species of ground hunting spiders that can be found right across Australia with some being named after notable Australian scientists and arachnid enthusiasts.

The spiders are part of the Miturgidae family and love a number of differing arid habitats from deserts and eucalypt forests to coastal heaths.

The study, which spanned decades, was led by arachnologist Robert Raven who said the discovery of new species wasn’t surprising but the number they discovered was a shock.

“The newly described species have a body length of up to 10 millimetres, and are nocturnal and fast-moving spiders,” he said.

“I was surprised at how many species were described in this paper. I knew there were a lot, but the number was far higher than I predicted.”

Former Totally Wild host ranger Stacey Thomson was one of the lucky ones to have a species named after them, the Miturgopelma rangerstaceyae.

Ms Thomson worked with Dr Raven in the past on Totally Wild and said it was an honour to have a species named after her.

“I spent many hours filming spider stories over the years with Robert and the team at Queensland Museum and it was always amazing,” Ranger Stacey said.

“I learnt so much about arachnids, their biology and unique behaviours and I hope that these stories helped show children around Australia what incredible creatures spiders are.”

German research scientist and arachnologist Barbara Baehr, the Miturgopelma baehrae, and photographer and spider enthusiast Caitlin Henderson, the Miturgopelma caitlinae, were others who had species named in their honour.

Queensland Museum Network CEO, Jim Thompson, praised the painstaking work done by Dr Raven and his team.

“Our taxonomists are like detectives in the work they do to formally describe new species to science,” he said.

“Quite often species are obtained and become part of the collection, but they may not be formally known to science. That’s where the work of our researchers, scientists and honoraries come in.

“Sometimes this process can be quick, but other times, it can take decades and I commend the remarkable work of Dr Raven and his colleagues on this project.”

jordan.mccarthy@news.com.au | @JordoMc85

Originally published as Queensland research discovers horror number of new spider species