Lost spiders rediscovered in new paper

25 May 2018

PHOTOS AND VIDEO can be downloaded here.

Lost spiders rediscovered in new paper

What do a string theorist, a world-champion surfer and a famous Hollywood actor have in common? Spiders! 23 new Australian species of spiders have recently been described by Queensland Museum arachnologist Dr Robert Raven.

The recently published paper in Memoirs of the Queensland Museum features a number of spiders including one named after actor Jack Nicholson, a water spider from the Gold Coast named after surfing legend Mick Fanning, one named for World Science Festival co-founder, string theorist  Professor Brian Greene and others named after local legends, citizen scientists and natural fauna and flora.

The species from the generas Dolomedes, Ornodolomedes, Megadolomedes, Dendrolycosa and Mangromedes also include new species of spiders once thought ‘lost’ and ‘rediscovered’ species that have been sitting within Queensland Museum’s vast collection.

For the past century only two specimens within the Dolomedes genre have been collected, according to Dr Raven.

“To launch the inaugural World Science Festival Brisbane in 2016, I wanted to honour festival co-founder Professor Brian Greene’s contribution to science by naming a spider after him,” Dr Raven said.

“I found a spider that hunts prey on water using waves and associated vibrations, but soon after it became apparent that there were many more spiders that fell within this group and the scope had to be extended; we discovered a whole host of species in the Dolomedes genus and it has led to these new species being described.”

Dr Raven said amongst the new spiders were some of the most interesting he has seen, many with a stunning pattern and striking colours.

“The spiders in the Ornodolomedes genus are some of the most beautiful Australian water spiders I have ever seen in my career due to their various patterns and colours – the photos do not do them justice,” Dr Raven said.

Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch praised Queensland Museum and Dr Robert Raven for his ground breaking work.

“These new discoveries show that research led by Queensland Museum remains at the very forefront of increasing global scientific knowledge about our natural environment,” Minister Enoch said.

Queensland Museum Network Acting CEO Dr Jim Thompson said museum scientists used cutting-edge technology to describe new species.

“The work of Queensland Museum Network scientists goes beyond the walls of the museum and takes them across the country as they lead research trips documenting and discovering new species, which is fundamental to our understanding of biodiversity and our mission to value and celebrate our distinctive environment,” he said.

“This paper is the culmination of years of hard work from Dr Robert Raven who leads Australia’s most active arachnology department here at Queensland Museum.”

The spiders can be found across Australia with new species found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania, as well as New Caledonia.

Media Enquiries: media@qm.qld.gov.au

Christine Robertson 0417 741 710 or Kylie Hay 0434 565 852