Researchers discovered three previously unknown species of spiders during an expedition in the Australian Alps. Among the mysterious eight-legged friends is a huntsman spider (giant crab spider), which camouflages itself like a warrior and belongs to the genus Neosparassus, said the group of botanists and zoologists around the spider researcher Joseph Schubert.
The spider wears "war paint on its legs and a shield on its chest to deter predators," Australian broadcaster ABC quoted the arachnologist as saying. The Huntsman is not poisonous to humans.
The other discoveries are a jumping spider, just three millimeters in size, that looks like "an eight-eyed puppy" and a winding spider that disguises itself as a branch. "The winding spider is a fierce nocturnal mini-hunter that disguises itself as a branch during the day to hide from predators," explained Schubert. Spiders are extremely diverse, he added.
Environment Minister describes the finds as "fantastic"
As part of the "Bush Blitz" expedition, 15 scientists from different research institutes traveled to remote areas of the Australian Alps for eleven days. The mountain ranges lie in the highest part of the Great Dividing Range between the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
"Discovering and documenting undescribed species is critical to their conservation and can prevent 'invisible' species from becoming extinct before they are even documented," Schubert wrote on Twitter. "If a species is not known, it cannot be adequately protected."
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek described the finds as "fantastic". Programs like Bush Blitz would help develop a deeper understanding of Australia's habitats in order to make environmentally conscious decisions for the future. "About three quarters of Australia's biodiversity are still waiting to be discovered by science," the minister wrote on Twitter. "But now we can add three more to the list."