New species of spider discovered in NSW

By Angela Heathcote 18 September 2017
Reading Time: < 1 Print this page
Meet the new brush-footed trapdoor spider.

A NEW SPECIES of silverback spider (Idiommata) has been discovered in Lake Mungo National Range, New South Wales during a Bush Blitz expedition earlier this month.

The spider, known as the brush-footed trapdoor, is yet another discovery by the Bush Blitz project, which aims to identify unknown species of Australian flora and fauna.

According to Barbara Baehr, the research scientists who discovered the new spider, describing a new species is the first step towards conserving Australia’s unique arachnids.

“To date 70 per cent of Australian spiders species remain unknown.  Knowing more Australian spiders will raise the awareness of biodiversity conservation at the local, regional and national levels,” Barbara told Australian Geographic.

“Bush Blitz supports spider taxonomy in a two ways: through Bush Blitz expeditions where scientists are able to collect and observe the spiders in their natural habitat and with tactical taxonomy grants that are available for scientists to describe new Bush Blitz findings in a systematic context.”

Since the Bush Blitz project first started in 2010, 350 new species of spiders have been discovered, while 43 have been officialy described and are now published in scientific papers.

Australian silverback spiders

Sporting a thick, dark brown coat, the female specimen collected by Barbara is starkly different from the male silverbacks that usually sport a silvery sheen on the top of their heads making them easily recognisable. 

Barbara explained that despite close revision of the brush-footed trapdoor spider family (Barychelidae) by Robert Raven in 1994, the arachnologist did not include the silverbacks of the genus Idiommata. “Therefore we do not know much about the Australian silverback spiders. All what we know is that this species is new,” she said.