How do you identify a new species of Aussie spider? Check their genitals!

Racing stripe spider | Image by Dr Robert Raven

Racing stripe spider | Image by Dr Robert Raven

Scientists who specialise in spider taxonomy carefully study each spider’s genitalia (called ‘pedipalps’), which are a different shape for every species.

They cut off the female spider’s genitalia, drop them into acid to make them transparent, and then look at them under a $5,000 microscope. They cut off the male spider’s genitalia, coat them in a very fine gold and look at them under a $200,000 microscope.

How’s that for gender discrimination!

 

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