28 June, 2021
It's surprising how little we know about spiders in the Central West.
WHILE dinosaur bones are continually being discovered in the Central West, there are predictions that there are still thousands of species of arachnids living in the outback.
Three new species of tarantula have been found in Longreach surrounds since 2007.
The species has yet to be officially named as researchers are still studying the specimen.
Senior Curator at the Queensland Museum Dr Robert Raven said there are still tons and tons of species living in outback Queensland that are still yet to be discovered.
“With every 50kms in the outback the soil and the landscape are different, when we put traps down that are 50kms apart we are getting different new species at each location,” said Dr Raven.
“What we see now is a very level country, but once it was quite diverse, and spiders stay in that situation underground and they don’t move around a lot, and they reflect that ancient history.
“We have some of the best diversity out of any of the states as we have the mangroves, we have the reef, the mountains, the rainforest and then we have the massive plains of lowland and the Mitchell Grass plains and desert.
“Queensland has spiders from every perspective, and we have even discovered spiders that are living 600m offshore at Port Douglas and these spiders only see air three-four times per year when the tide drops to 0.3 meters.
“Some of the spiders that are found in Queensland go back millions and millions of years in terms of species,” said Dr Raven.
Spiders have a highly important effect on humans as they can very easily kill a dog or cat and have the (terms) to be life-threatening to humans.
Dr Raven said it is important to know more about the spiders and those found in the outback because their venom may be useful for medicinal purposes.
“Any animal that has a potential to affect a vertebrate with a backbone is of interest to the pharmaceutical industry, as they look at the venom and what they can use it for, for example, to help manage cancer.
“One of the biggest issues with outback spiders is that everyone has paid too much attention to the rainforest and not enough to the outback.
“There is so much to be discovered out here, and we live in a very diverse country so don’t take it for granted,” said Dr Raven.
These spiders discovered in the Central West are among the biggest in Australia.
If anyone discovers an eight-legged creature in their backyard, email photographs to Dr Robert Raven Robert.Raven@qm.qld.gov.au.