After a relatively spider-free night walk with the mob at Gowan Brae while on a Bush Blitz expedition, we came across some rocks near the track. I looked under one and saw only a common invasive spider but one of the young spider enthusiasts, Robert Beeton, found a medium-sized spider with long legs.
When I saw the spider my hands started to shake – not from the fear of being bitten, but more the fear of losing or damaging what I recognised is a truly amazing spider!
It is a member of the racing stripe spider family, Miturgidae, which are widespread in Australia and there are at least three named species in Tasmania in two genera.
On the mainland, Miturigidae have been one of several spider families that have been found killing and at least partially eating cane toads. The spider that Robert Beeton found was something else altogether.
It is new genus that I have been working on and is very diverse in Australia’s dry country and deserts. It includes many new species that I have yet to name and all are from hot dry areas. The southernmost point I got other species of the genus was western Victoria, near the border. So I was dumbstruck to get the genus in these cold central highlands. Much work needs to be done to test my hypothesis, but being in Tasmania suggests this should be one of the oldest species of the genus.
It is definitely a new species and will bear the name that Robert Beeton and his family have chosen when it is published.
Dr Robert Raven, Bush Blitz