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Author: Liz Burke
Date: 31st of August 2016

IF QUEENSLAND wanted to knock itself out of the lists of the scariest places to visit, it might have to wait a little while, and blame a new discovery of creepy crawlies.

At least 10 new species of trapdoor spiders have been discovered hiding in Brisbane forests and national parks throughout the state.

The aggressive, sharp-fanged, eight-legged nasties have been found by a Griffith University PhD student Jeremy Wilson in national parks, including popular Gold Coast tourist spot Lamington National Park and the Capricorn Caves in Rockhampton.

Just four species of golden trapdoor spiders are known in southeast Queensland, but Mr Wilson says he’s identified at least 10 more in that area alone.

“We believe there are many more undiscovered species out there,” he said.

“The really cool thing about them is that they’re really long lived and they don’t move much, they live in these holes their entire life.”

But what a scientist identifies as the “really cool thing” about these spiders, is perhaps the most terrifying to most. Trapdoor spiders build themselves holes to hide out in, complete with doors, as the name suggests, keeping them well hidden.

Because of their elusive nature, their danger is somewhat unknown, but with 1cm fangs on some, there is potential to do serious damage.

Mr Wilson has developed a knack for spotting the traps and handling the “aggressive” spiders, warning if you’re unlucky enough to come across a trap, don’t swat or try to pick up the spider.

“You have to be very careful with the spiders and if they’re in a bad mood you don’t pick them up. If you hesitate that’s when it will bite you,” he said.

Though outdoorsy types with a fear of spiders may not be enthused by the discovery, it’s an important breakthrough for researchers.

“In Australia especially there is so much that is still unknown about them,” Mr Wilson said.

“When they do conservation planning they need to know what’s there. With only four species of so many potentially, these trapdoor species are in danger of going extinct before we even know they exist.

“The key thing to highlight is that predators are crucial to ecosystems as they control the population of all organisms at lower levels of the food chain.”


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