Science

Five New Species of Golden Trapdoor Spiders Discovered

The newly-discovered species of golden trapdoor spiders are from south-eastern Queensland, Australia.

Euoplos schmidti. Image credit: Jeremy Wilson.

Euoplos schmidti. Image credit: Jeremy Wilson.

Australian golden trapdoor spiders belong to the tribe Euoplini in the family Idiopidae.

They are among the most abundant and diverse of mygalomorph spider lineages in subtropical eastern Australia.

They are known to make a ‘plug-door’ burrow, with the door made out of soil and silk that sits flush with the surrounding soil when closed.

They have a large body similar to tarantulas and can vary in color from dark red to light tan and every shade in between.

“I’m not sure how they became known as golden trapdoors as very few are truly golden,” said Dr. Jeremy Wilson, a researcher at Griffith University, Queensland Museum and the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales.

“That said, they are a remarkable group of spiders and are very interesting in that they are so varied, from being very spiny to being quite large — some of them have bodies that are around 4 cm in length.”

The five new species of golden trapdoor spiders are named Euoplos booloumba, Euoplos jayneae, Euoplos raveni, Euoplos regalis and Euoplos schmidti.

“The work of a taxonomist is similar to a detective and that this project in particular highlighted how much work goes into describing a new species,” said Dr. Michael Rix, principal curator of arachnology at Queensland Museum.

“We have been working on this project for a few years, as a number of these species look very similar and live near each other, which meant we had to compare a large amount of evidence to describe these five new species.”

“When we describe a new species we need to consider their morphology or what they look like, but also compare their DNA to see how similar genetically they are, and then of course where they are found.”

“This work is especially important and timely as we try to protect those species still living in remnant habitats in urban environments around Brisbane.”

“The first step to conserving any species is scientifically naming it, as we cannot protect something if we don’t know it exists in the environment.”

The new species are described in a paper in the journal Invertebrate Systematics.

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Jeremy D. Wilson & Michael G. Rix. 2021. Systematics of the Australian golden trapdoor spiders of the Euoplos variabilis-group (Mygalomorphae : Idiopidae : Euoplini): parapatry and sympatry between closely related species in subtropical Queensland. Invertebrate Systematics 35 (5): 514-541; doi: 10.1071/IS20055

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