Posted on: April 3, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Spiders. Some people hate them, not too many love them, but they’re everywhere and they’re here to stay. By and large, spiders don’t deserve the hate they get from people There are more than 43,000 species of spider in the world, and so far we’ve only identified 30 species which are capable of killing a human with their venom. [1] That’s less than one-tenth of one percent of all spiders.

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Why are so few spiders venomous to humans? Simply put: they didn’t evolve to be able to take down massive creatures. The average spider weighs about 14 mg. [2] A spider weighing only a fraction of a gram has very little to gain from killing a 180-pound human. Most spiders would prefer to run away from you then get into an altercation of any kind.

Read: Entomologist Explains How Common House Spiders Can Actually Keep Our Homes Safer

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So hopefully now that we’ve established just how not dangerous spiders really are, we can enjoy them for what they are: fuzzy little pest-eating cuties. That’s right, I said it. Spiders are cute. And in Australia, a bunch of new spider cuties have been discovered.

Peacock spiders are a type of spider unique to Australia. They get their name for the males’ vibrant colors and flamboyant mating dances. These spiders, like most, are venomous, but they are completely harmless to humans. Their venom is for hunting tiny flies and other insects, not you.

“I’d describe peacock spiders as tiny, little, colorful kittens,” Joseph Schubert said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. [3]

Read: Woman Shares Photos of an Amazing Flower-Like Bug That Looks like A Work of Art

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“They have their own personalities and they’re incredibly tiny – about the size of a grain of rice.”

Schubert, who is now a registration officer in entomology and arachnology at Museums Victoria admits that he himself was once afraid of spiders, but that over time, exposing himself to them caused the fear to dissipate. Now, Schubert is credited for documenting 12 new species of peacock spider, bringing the total to 85. [4]

“Some of the species in this paper were discovered by citizen scientists who documented the localities and sent images to me – their help is so important for this kind of research,” Schubert said.

These new species were discovered in the Australian states of Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. His personal favorite discovery was M. constellatus, named for its starry-looking abdomen, reminiscent of a Van Gough painting.

“It’s such a nice looking species,” Schubert said. “The pattern reminds me of The Starry Night by Van Gough. Plus I traveled a very, very long way to find it!’

Jurgen Otto, an entomologist who has identified and documented Peacock spiders, has created an online gallery of the spiders that document their varying colors. [5]

“There are now quite a few people looking, mostly photographers and mostly they are finding the same species. Having said that it is still worth looking, a couple will be still out there,” Otto told ScienceAlert. [4]

“If new ones turn up now they tend to be species that are very similar to ones previously described, and in the future people may argue whether these are truly new and different species or local variants of species already described.”

You can read more about these new species of spider in a paper published in Zootaxa. [6]

Read: Amazing DIY Hack To Help Keep Spiders Out Of The House

  1. https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-spiders
  2. https://reducing-suffering.org/approximate-mass-of-a-typical-bug/
  3. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-02/seven-new-species-of-peacock-spider-discovered/12110306
  4. https://www.sciencealert.com/a-bunch-of-new-spiders-have-been-discovered-in-australia-and-they-re-utterly-adorable
  5. https://www.peacockspider.org/size
  6. https://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4758.1.1

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Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.

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