A new species of trapdoor spider has been officially documented by researchers. The species is classified as "rare and giant" and can only be found in the Brigalow Belt region of central Queensland. The spiders are nocturnal and are typically found inside trapdoors that are about the size of a 50-cent coin in the black soil around Eidsvold and Monto, located west of Bundaberg. According to arachnologist Michael Rix, female spiders are larger, measuring nearly five centimeters in body length. Although the discovery by the Queensland Museum's Project DIG team is exciting, Dr. Rix warns that the species is endangered.
The scientific name is Euoplos dignitas," said Dr. Rix, who is the principal scientist and curator of arachnology at the museum. Euoplos is a group of trapdoor spiders, and dignitas is a Latin epithet meaning dignity or greatness. This name acknowledges both the project and the spider's enormous size.
Dr. Rix explained that the spiders spend the first five to seven years of their lives in burrows until the males come out to search for female burrows. The males of the species are a vibrant honey-red color and are quite striking, while the females are darker and more robust since they spend their entire lives underground. Despite having venom in their fangs, the spiders are not medically significant and pose no real threat to humans.
Dr. Rix expressed concern about the future of the species. "Areas like the Brigalow Belt have been heavily cleared for agriculture and other land uses," he said. "Trapdoor spiders prefer natural woodland remnants and are not good at getting around the landscape compared to flying insects, for example." He went on to say that more surveys are necessary to determine the spider's population in the area and that the new species appears to be struggling in its natural environment. The Journal of Arachnology has published the confirmation of the new species.