A tiny jumping spider that looks like a “liquorice-all-sort” and a “ferocious hunter” that camouflages as a tree branch are among three new spider species uncovered by researchers searching Australia’s remote alpine region.
Twenty scientists and teachers have travelled to the region near the border between Victoria and New South Wales on a 11-day ‘Alpine Bush Blitz’ to catalogue species and broadcast the expedition into Australian classrooms.
Three previously undescribed spider species were found by Museums Victoria Research Institute arachnologist Joseph Schubert who said he hoped to find more before the Blitz concludes.
“Most people associate spiders with the outback dunny door, but spiders are hugely diverse,” he said.
“Discovering and documenting undescribed species is crucial for their conservation and may prevent invisible species from becoming extinct.
“If a species is not known, it cannot be adequately protected.”
The species found by Mr Schubert included a new warrior huntsman with a shield on it’s chest, a wraparound spider and the 3mm jumping spider he said looked like “eight-eyed puppies”.
“The wraparound spider is a ferocious nocturnal mini-hunter that impersonates a tree branch during the day to hide from predators,” he said.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek lauded the finds as “fantastic”.
“Around three-quarters of Australia’s biodiversity is still waiting to be discovered by science,” she said.
“Programs like Bush Blitz are giving us a deeper understanding of Australian habitats so that we can make nature positive decisions for the future.”
The Bush Blitz is described as Australia’s largest nature discovery program and funded through a partnership between Parks Australia, BHP and Earthwatch Australia.
Since 2009, 45 expeditions have taken place hoping to document the three-quarters of Australia biodiversity currently unknown to science.
Story Credit: news.com.au