Over a period of just two weeks, a research expedition in Queensland was able to find more than 50 species of spider that were previously unknown to science.
The amazing discovery highlights the incredible biodiversity of Australia, although maybe this isn’t the kind of biodiversity most of us enjoy encountering.
But for the researchers, it was exactly what they were looking for. It’s a program called Bush Blitz, and it lives up to its name. A team of 23 researchers uncovering dozens of species in just two weeks is pretty impressive.
Most of this was in Quinkam County, and one of the researchers posted this video of some of their finds:
That was a nice try, putting cheery music as the soundtrack to footage of mostly terrifying creatures. But they’re not fooling anyone. The bigger question raised by this expedition: where in Quinkam County is there a secret gateway to Hell? Clearly these things are coming from somewhere.
It should be said though: most spiders are harmless to humans. And some of these discoveries have fascinating specialized behaviours. For example, one species which specialized in hunting ants is also able to mimic the sounds of its prey, as a way of sneaking up on them.
That’s just cool. But if they ever find a spider that’s able to do the same thing for humans, we should really consider nuking Quinkam County.
Some other notable newcomers include a peacock spider which does an elaborate courtship dance (cool), a new species of brush-footed trapdoor spider (cool), and a species which the Guardian described as being “like a funnel web with the added power of being able to walk up glass doors.” (Not cool. Really, really not cool.)
In terms of Australia’s overall spider species count, the addition of 50 new ones is surprisingly just a drop in the bucket. The country is already home to more than three thousand known species. And it is likely that many thousands more still remain unknown.
And while it’s cool to think about unknown species of spiders, it’s also kind of terrifying, especially if you encounter an unfamiliar spider. What if this is one of the unknown ones? And what if it becomes known by biting and killing me? Would they name the species after me at least? It doesn’t matter, because I already squashed it.
Clearly Quinkam County is a treasure house of biology. But really, that’s all the more reason to avoid publicizing it. Because now that we know what it has in store for us, there’s no way I would ever go there without a blowtorch.