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The three new Australian spiders set to send tourists running

While some travellers are petrified by spiders, the discovery of new species has excited researchers.

Nervous tourists have long feared Australia’s crocodiles and snakes, but it’s the country’s estimated 10,000 species of spiders that are the source of ultimate fear for many.

The discovery of three new types of spiders is bound to be another reason many travellers choose to avoid Australia.

A research group including 15 scientists discovered the arachnids during an 11-day trek through the Australian alps. They identified a “warrior huntsman” with a shield pattern on its chest, a wraparound spider that looks like a tree branch, and a 3mm jumping spider was described as appearing like a piece of coloured liquorice.

A jumping spider (left) and a wraparound spider (right) in close up.
A jumping spider (left) and a wraparound spider (right) were among the new species found. Source: Joseph Schubert

Environment minister Tanya Plibersek said the find was “fantastic”, noting that approximately three-quarters of Australia’s biodiversity has not yet been described by science.

Among those responsible for the discovery is Museums Victoria arachnid expert Joseph Schubert who said he hopes to find even more spider species in the alps.

“Most people associate spiders with the outback dunny door, but spiders are hugely diverse,” he said. From the infamous shield huntsman with war paint on his legs and a shield on his chest to frighten off predators, to tiny the jumping spiders that look like eight-eyed puppies.”

A huntsman from underneath.
A new species of huntsman was discovered by researchers. Source: Joseph Schubert

Most spider bites not deadly to humans

While most spiders are relatively harmless to humans, they continue to be a source of fear for many people.

For instance, large huntsman spiders are usually reluctant to bite. While they are venomous they are not deadly to humans and are great at controlling pests like cockroaches in the home.

Evidence suggests Australia’s funnel-web spider is the world’s most deadly, and redback spiders have also caused deaths. But there have been no human fatalities from spider bites in Australia since 1979 when antivenin was made available as a treatment.

Spiders remain critical to the country’s environment and without them ecosystems would collapse.

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