(CNN) A new, large species of spider has been found living in Queensland, Australia, and researchers say it needs protection.
Rare and colorful, the tarantula-like creature is a species of golden spider belonging to the genus Euoplos, which since 2017 has been the subject of an intense research programme, according to The study was published March 15 In the Journal of Spider Science.
The species, now called Euoplos gentita, was first discovered in the early 20th century, near the towns of Monto and Eidsfold, but has remained undescribed and unnamed due to a lack of research, said study author Michael Ricks, Principal Coordinator of Genealogy Queensland. Museums Network, via email.
For years there were only a few Euoplos VIP specimens in the Queensland Museum’s collection, all but one of which were collected before the 1970s. There were no known males among them – which presented a huge obstacle for Rex and his research team.
A journey of rediscovery
Having a male specimen is important to being able to identify and name a species within the order Mygalomorphae, of which the Euoplos spiders are a part, said Paula Cushing, senior curator of vertebrate zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Cushing, who is also the secretary of the American Society of Arachnologists, was not involved in the study.
“Often, in order to find out if what you’re looking at is new to science, you always have to, with spiders, examine the genitals,” she added.
So the researchers needed new genetic material that they could test from a live male sample — which meant they had to find one.
They finally found what they were looking for on the side of the road in the Eidsvold monto area after a three-day search in May 2021. It was the first collection of the species since the 1990s.
After comparing their find with other specimens in the museum’s collection, the research team formally described Euoplos Lignitas. Dignitas is “Latin for dignity or greatness,” said Rex, referring to the amazing nature of this spider. YouTube video Published by the Queensland Museum Network. “They’re kind of big and beautiful.”
According to the study, females of this species have a reddish-brown carapace and burrow-building behavior and can reach up to two inches in length, which is “too big” for this type of spider. Males have a striking “honey red” carapace and legs, and their abdomen is greyish-brown.
“These spiders are so cool because they live so long. And some of the trapdoor mygalomorphs can live for literally decades,” Cushing said. “The longest-lived from Bab al-Mashour was 43 years old.”
Protect Euoplos characters
The researchers also found that protection is necessary for this rare species. When the researchers sampled male Euoplos premitas, they noticed that most of the roadside habitat that would normally be available for this species has been cleared for agriculture or is highly disturbed, which is “extremely damaging to trapdoor spiders, their burrows, and habitat integrity,” according to the researchers.
“Until the detailed survey is completed, we won’t know how many residents are left,” Ricks said. “But the natural range of the species is small[and]very fragmented, and we were only able to detect one living[specimen]at that time.”
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