If you didn’t already know about ground-hunting spiders, you might want to sit down. Researchers just named 48 new species of them, mostly located in Western Australia.


Researchers from the University of Queensland are responsible for the leggy news, publishing their recent findings in the International Journal Zootaxa. The new spiders are nocturnal, have bodies up to 10mm in length, and mostly reside in the western half of the country. Was it just us or did the eastern seaboard just noticeably relax?

The decades-long study catalogued almost 50 new species, which means that we now have approximately 2,700 known species of spider in Australia. And (I hope you’re still sitting down), there may be up to 15,000 more spiders that we haven’t formally identified yet. Yep. 15,000 more spider species.

If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the faint sound of arachnophobes sobbing. But for science aficionados, 48 new spiders (and possibly 15,000 more on the way!) is very cool news.


Say hello to a new male Miturgopelma paruwi | Image thanks to Queensland Museum

The Science

Lead author of the research into these 48 ground-hunting spiders, Dr Robert Raven, has been working on the project since the 1990s. He initially predicted that he might discover 15 species, but quickly discovered that there were many more to be found.

‘If it comes up to 15,000 (species) Australia will represent a quarter of the world’s spider population,’ Raven said. ‘It’s a rich and amazing country, enormous in size, and very diverse in pockets of populations and species of things that are in small areas.’

Field work is difficult when researching these spiders as they are most active at night and extremely small. As such, researchers are relying on samples collected by museums around Australia. The work is slow, but research like this proves that progress is being made.


Arachnid chic with Dr Robert Raven | Photo thanks to Queensland Museum

Naming Rights

The fun part about discovering new species is the chance to get one named after you. Former Totally Wild presenter and Park Ranger Stacey Thompson had the honour of becoming the namesake for ‘Miturgopelma rangerstaceyae,’ a nocturnal, fast-moving toad-hunting spider from the Miturgidae family.

‘It may not be gorgeous or cute to many, but this is an important discovery,’ Thompson posted to Instagram upon hearing the, err, news.

Many of the spiders were named after notable people in our ecological community. Wildlife photographer Caitlin Henderson, from She’s Got Legs, had a spider she discovered, Miturgopelma caitlinae, named after her. Similarly, Dr Barbara Baehr, who has singlehandedly described more spiders in Australia than anyone else in the past century, now has the Miturgopelma baehrae as her namesake.


Meet Australia’s Newest Spiders: 48 Ground-Hunters That Don’t Spin Webs, Jess Nehme, photo of Caitlin Henderson, Photo supplied by Queensland Museum

Caitlin Henderson in her natural habitat | Photo thanks to Queensland Museum

The Spiders

For all the designated household spider-removalists who lovingly get plastic containers and shepherd unwelcome houseguests outside to safety, this celebratory list of Australia’s newest ground-hunters is for you:

  • Miturgopelma alanyeni
  • Miturgopelma archeri
  • Miturgopelma baehrae
  • Miturgopelma bandalup
  • Miturgopelmabiancahilleryae
  • Miturgopelma bogantungan
  • Miturgopelma brachychiton
  • Miturgopelma brevirostra
  • Miturgopelma buckaringa
  • Miturgopelma bungabiddy
  • Miturgopelma caitlinae
  • Miturgopelma calperum
  • Miturgopelma couperi
  • Miturgopelma culgoa
  • Miturgopelma echidna
  • Miturgopelma echinoides
  • Miturgopelma harveyi
  • Miturgopelma hebronae
  • Miturgopelma kinchega
  • Miturgopelma maningrida
  • Miturgopelma minderoo
  • Miturgopelma oakleigh
  • Miturgopelma paruwi
  • Miturgopelma rangerstaceyae
  • Miturgopelma rar
  • Miturgopelma rixi
  • Miturgopelma sieda
  • Miturgopelma spinisternis
  • Miturgopelma watarrka
  • Miturgopelma woz
  • Miturgopelma yarmina
  • Knotodo coolgardie
  • Knotodo eneabba
  • Knotodo muckera
  • Knotodo narelleae
  • Knotodo nullarbor
  • Knotodo shoadi
  • Knotodo toolinna
  • Xeromiturga gumbardo
  • Xeromiturga bidgemia
  • Xeromiturga mardathuna
  • Xeromiturga pilbara
  • Miturgiella vulgaris
  • Xistera auriphila
  • Xistera barlee
  • Xistera coventryi
  • Xistera jandateae
  • Xistera serpentine


Header photo featuring Miturgopelma caitlinae, shot by Caitlin Henderson

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