New Giant Spider Species Discovered


Meet the New Giant Spider Species Described As ‘Rare and Secretive’

A new, giant species of trapdoor spider has been discovered in Queensland, Australia, which researchers are describing as “rare” and “secretive.”

The species, Euoplos dignitas, was identified after four years of intensive fieldwork by researchers at Queensland Museum, following the discovery of an undescribed species in the museum’s collection.

“This species was first known from older specimens stored in the Queensland Museum collection, mostly collected in the early and mid-20th century,” Michael Rix, principal curator of arachnology at Queensland Museum, who led the study, told Newsweek.

To confirm that Euoplos dignitas was indeed a new spider species, the research team compared its appearance and genetics to that of other species, using the museum’s collection as a physical record for making comparisons.

“An extensive research programme over the last five years revealed that it was an undescribed species, but no recent specimens had been collected since 1997,” said Rix. “Field work funded by Project DIG resulted in the ‘rediscovery’ of the species near Monto, and follow-up scientific research led to its taxonomic description.”

Project DIG is a research collaboration between BHP Mitsubishi Alliance and the Queensland Museum Network. Jim Thompson, CEO of the Queensland Museum Network, said that the project was helping researchers at the museum discover new species and unlock knowledge about the biodiversity in the Queensland area and in the museum’s collections.

Rix said that the spider’s species name was a nod to this project.

“The name Euoplos dignitas is derived from the Latin ‘dignitas’ meaning dignity or greatness and is reflected by the impressive size and nature of the spider, but also a connection to Project DIG, who funded our research,” Rix said.

Females of this species have a body length of nearly 2 inches, which Rix said was “very large” for this type of spider. Males are slightly smaller.

Luckily, this large species is not considered a threat to humans, and Rix said that it would be unlikely to come into contact with people because of its reclusive nature.

“It is a rare, secretive species found in open woodland habitats,” Rix said.

The species is found in a very few locations around Monto and Eidsvold, in the Brigalow Belt, a wide band of acacia-wooded grassland that runs between the tropical rainforest of the coast and the semi-arid interior of central eastern Queensland. Rix said that it had lost much of its habitat because of land clearing in the area, which meant that the species would likely be classed as endangered.

Like many other trapdoor spiders, the species builds its burrows underground in the soils of open woodlands and eats ground-dwelling invertebrates.

Trapdoor spiders are named after the little door-like lids that some of the species in this group build on their burrows. Many trapdoor spiders actually have open dens, but the Euoplos dignitas does have a lidded den.

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