'Big, Beautiful Species' of Giant Trapdoor Spider Discovered

The spiders can live for up to 20 years in the wild, are hard to spot despite their size, and have been found near regional farming towns in Australia

Rare giant spider found in Australia
Photo: Queensland Museum

Scientists in the Australian state of Queensland have discovered a new species of giant trapdoor spider.

The rare arachnids have been named Euoplos dignitas, from the Latin word dignitas — meaning dignity or greatness. It's a fitting name for the colorful species, which can grow to sizes sure to make the squeamish avert their eyes.

Females have a red-brown carapace and can live for 20 years in the wild. Their bodies can grow to be about two inches long, which is considerable for trapdoor spiders. Males can grow to about 1.1 inches long and have a "striking" "honey-red" carapace and legs.

The Euoplos dignitas is "a big, beautiful species," Dr Michael Rix said in a YouTube video published by the Queensland Museum.

The new species was discovered around the small farming towns of Monto and Eidsvold by researchers involved in Queensland Museum's Project DIG. The research found the arachnids were under threat due to the land being cleared for agriculture, which is "extremely destructive for trapdoor spiders, their burrows and the integrity of their habitat." The study found that Euoplos dignitas could become "critically endangered" due to habitat loss.

This new species is known as a trapdoor spider because it burrows under debris and builds a trapdoor made of silk and soil to the burrow. Trapdoor spiders burst out of their hiding spots to attack prey, usually small insects.

While venomous, the Euoplos dignitas is not considered dangerous to humans, according to a study published in the Journal of Arachnology.

Rare giant spider found in Australia
Queensland Museum

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Australia is home to three of the four deadliest spiders in the world, according to the Australian Museum. Australian funnel-web spiders are among the most lethal. There have been 13 recorded human deaths from the species' bites. However, no deaths have been recorded from any spider bites in Australia since 1979, thanks to the creation of effective antivenoms.

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