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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Australia. Euoplos dignitas – a new species of large spider. Is it dangerous to humans?

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Euoplos dignitas is a “rediscovered” species of spider. Specimens representing it have been stored in the collections of the Australian Queensland Museum for over a century, but only now research has revealed that we are dealing with a separate species. The size and appearance of the animal may be terrifying, but scientists reassure that it is rare, inhabits only certain areas of the state and if it threatens anyone, it is small invertebrates.

Euoplos is a genus of Australian armored spiders of the family Idiopidae, first described in 1914. A new species of these animals, named Euoplos dignitas, was scientifically confirmed and categorized only this year, although specimens representing it have been found since the beginning of the 20th century. There were no males among them, which made the task of the researchers more difficult. The situation changed when in 2021 a male specimen was found for the first time. This assured the scientists that they were indeed dealing with a separate species.

Euoplos dignitas – maleQueensland Museum

Impressive size and character of the spider

Field studies on spiders of the genus Euoplos have been conducted since 2017 as part of the extensive DIG program. The pilot scientists associated with the Queensland Museum boasted of the results of their latest analyzes in the March issue of the scientific journal “Journal of Arachnology”.

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“We first encountered an individual of this species while looking through older specimens that have been kept at the museum since the early 20th century,” Michael Rix, the study’s lead author, told newsweek.com.

Euoplos dignitas – femaleQueensland Museum

To confirm that the male was indeed a new species, the research team compared its appearance and genetics with other specimens in the museum’s collection.

Name Euoplos dignitaschosen contains the Latin word “dignitas” meaning dignity or greatness. ‘It reflects the impressive size and character of the spider, but also underlines the connection with Project DIG, which funded our research,’ explained the scientist.

Euoplos dignitasQueensland Museum

She’s losing her habitat

Like many other species of this genus, Euoplos dignitas it builds burrows underground and feeds on surface invertebrates. The researcher added that female bodies are about five centimeters long, males are slightly smaller.

Euoplos dignitas – female and maleQueensland Museum

Rix reassured that this species, while intimidating in appearance, is not considered dangerous to humans. In addition, the probability of meeting him in the natural environment is low, because he lives far from human settlements and is found only in a few places near Monto and Eidsvold. It inhabits a wide belt of meadows and acacia forests that runs between the tropical rainforest and the semi-arid area of ‚Äč‚Äčeast-central Queensland.

The researcher emphasized that the spider has lost a large part of its habitat due to deforestation. Therefore, most likely, it will soon be recognized as an endangered species.

CNN, newsweek.com, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Queensland Museum



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