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A giant trapdoor spider was discovered in Australia

A <em>Euoplos dignitas</em> spider pictured in 2021.
Queensland Museum
A Euoplos dignitas spider pictured in 2021.

A trap door with silken hinges might sound like something out of a fairy tale, but it's actually something that comes out of some spiders — and there's a new species to add to the list. Researchers in Australia discovered a rare, giant species of trapdoor spider found only in Central Queensland.

Its name, Euoplos dignitas, comes from the Latin word meaning dignity or greatness, "reflecting the impressive size and nature of the spider," the Queensland Museum said in a statement.

"It's a big, beautiful species," Michael Rix, the principal curator of arachnology at the Queensland Museum Network, said in a video announcing the finding. The researchers' goal was to "formally, scientifically document this new species."

A spokesperson for the Queensland Museum said the spider is more than an inch long, or about the size of an Australian 50 cent coin, which is slightly larger than an American half-dollar.

Euoplos dignitas lives in open woodland habitats, building burrows in Central Queensland's black soils. Like many species of trapdoor spiders, it constructs its burrows with silken-hinged doors, and it feeds by opening the trap door and snatching passing insects.

These tropical and subtropical spiders are timid and not dangerous to humans, though trapdoor spider bites may cause pain and swelling.

Much of the newly discovered spider's habitat has been lost to land clearing, meaning it's likely an endangered species. The species "is now known to everyone and can be protected," said Jeremy Wilson, a research assistant in arachnology at the Queensland Museum Network, in the announcement video.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kaitlyn Radde
Kaitlyn Radde is an intern for the Graphics and Digital News desks, where she has covered everything from the midterm elections to child labor. Before coming to NPR, she covered education data at Chalkbeat and contributed data analysis to USA TODAY coverage of Black political representation and NCAA finances. She is a graduate of Indiana University.

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