Fri, 8 Mar, 2019
Brace yourselves: 3 new species of Aussie spiders have just been discovered
Three new species of spiders have been discovered – and thankfully, they are "completely harmless" to humans.
The three peacock spiders were found and hand-collected by Project Maratus in the Lake Jasper and Mount Romance regions of southwestern Australia.
Joseph Schubert, spider taxonomist and research assistant at Monash University, announced the discovery on Twitter this week.
"They are officially named: Maratus aquilus, Maratus felinus, and Maratus combustus," wrote Schubert.
Meet Australia's three newest species! Here are three brand new peacock spiders that I described from Southwestern Australia, discovered by Project Maratus. As of today they are officially named: Maratus aquilus, Maratus felinus, and Maratus combustus. pic.twitter.com/eDV6JeCMAp
— Joseph Schubert (@j_schubert__) 5 March 2019
The critters, which are about the size of a rice grain, have brightly coloured markings on their abdomens.
"They're incredibly small but so charismatic and so colourful," Schubert told Ten Daily.
"Each species has a specific pattern that is different on their abdomen."
The name aquilus was based on the markings that resemble an eagle’s face, while felinus referred to the pattern’s resemblance to a cat. On the other hand, combustus reflected the marking’s similarity to a "fiery explosion".
Schubert said these three spider species will not be able to bite or hurt people due to their small size.
"Fear of creepy crawlies in Australia is somewhat irrational," said Schubert, explaining that only a handful of spider species in the country pose a significant threat to a human's life.
Schubert said 73 Maratus species have been identified and named so far.
The discovery brought the tally of described peacock spiders to 74, of which 29 are exclusively found in Southwestern Australia. Schubert referred to the areas in Western Australia as "biodiversity hotspots".