A new and rare species of spider has been found in Australia. It is called the Giant Trapdoor Spider (Euoplos dignitas), an arachnid in the Idiopidae family of armoured trapdoor spiders.
The Giant Trapdoor Spider has a small head, a shiny, smooth, armoured (plated carapace) thorax with 8 long hairy legs, and a large furry abdomen. The male is honey-red and the female is dark-brown. The male and female have two white bands on each leg, and a white band at the top of its carapace, near its head.
It grows to 5 centimetres (2 inches) long. The female is usually larger than the male. The new species is larger than other Trapdoor Spiders, which grow to 1-3 centimetres (less than an inch).
It is native to the Brigalow Belt in sub-tropical Central Queensland on the north-eastern coast of Australia near the rural towns of Eidsvold and Monto. It lives in open woodland habitats, and builds a burrow in the soil. The burrow has a lid opening, which is called a trapdoor. The trapdoor is made from soil, vegetation, and spider silk.
Dr Michael Rix, curator of arachnology at the Queensland Museum, says that the female Giant Trapdoor Spider spends her life underground, while the male leaves the burrow when it is 5-7 years old to find a mate.
It is noctural, mostly active at night. It sits at the trapdoor of its burrow and waits for insects to pass. It pounces quickly from the trapdoor to catch its prey, injects poison into it, and drags it into the burrow. It is not dangerous to humans.
It is estimated to live up to 20 years in the wild.
Photographs: Queensland Museum
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