'Mutant' blood-red funnel-web spider a unique specimen

If you thought funnel-web spiders weren't scary enough, now one has been found with terrifying mutant blood-red fangs and thorax.

 

Scientists from the Australian National University found the red-imbued Atrax sutherlandi, a close relation to the deadly Sydney funnel-web, while on a collecting trip in NSW.

Invertebrate zoologist Mark Wong told Australian Geographic he and his team were picking through a vast network of webs when the spider measuring about 5cm long jumped out at him.


"Before I knew it, boom! She had rushed out of her silken lair with her legs raised and fangs greeting me with glistening venom," Wong said.

"Instantly taken aback by her colours, I knew there and then, this was something special."

The female had a two-tone black and red motif, brought on by what the arachnophile described as a pigment "mutation".

The mutant spider's unique colouring is beautiful and frightening. Source: YouTube/Mark Wong

Red hues are not uncommon in funnel-web species, yet they generally appear on their underside, but Wong said this colourful critter was special because it lacked darker pigments.

"So what we are seeing in this particular specimen may be a case where the genes for red pigment are being expressed in the wrong tissue," he said.

'I knew there and then, this was something special,' said Mark Wong when he found the specimen. Source: YouTube/Mark Wong

Wong pondered that the mutation may have resulted from the dark melanin in the spider's body not being expressed rather than the reds being amplified.

The team has not located other spiders with similar mutations, meaning this feisty female is something of a unique discovery.

If you're someone who shrieks in fright at the mere thought of spiders, then stop right here - if you made it his far.

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