Trapdoor Spider
Sydney brown trapdoor spider (Misgolas rapax) in Kurrajong, New South Wales. Johan C.G. Fagerholm, Wikimedia Commons

In an incredible discovery, a Queensland scientist has found 11 new species of trapdoor spider in forests and on mountains around the state. Some of the bigger species found are about the size of a human palm and have fangs about one centimetre long. They can inflict serious damage if they bite. Some of the new species are deadly.

Jeremy Wilson, PhD student at Griffith University, worked with Queensland Museum to track down the new types of golden trapdoor spiders. They tracked them from remote parts of Cape York in the state's far north to Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

The interesting part is that no one’s been bitten by a lot of these species. Hence, the effects of being bitten by them are unknown. However, the researcher believes their venom could have serious consequences for humans.

Wilson found the burrow of one new species very interesting. This type lives near Gympie on the Sunshine Coast. He found the door of its burrow stuck up like a turret. The lid was too big and there were little leaflets like a clover coming off the side.

“There has to be an evolutionary reason for them to make the burrows like this, there has to be strong pressures for them to do that because it's a lot of effort,” Wilson told the ABC.

He added that trapdoor spiders are very elusive as they live most of their lives underground. Hence, they are very difficult to track down. Before this incredible discovery, only four species of golden trapdoor spider had been identified in Queensland.

“Some of the species might only occur in one particular forest or mountain. So if you're going to take out a forest for commercial reasons, you could take out an entire species. It's important we know they're there so we can take them into account as development continues,” Wilson said.

He pointed out the need to keep hunting new species as they are in danger of becoming extinct even before people know they exist.