A number of new spider species have been uncovered in BHP’s latest Bush Blitz, in the Northern Territory.
The program is part of BHP’s Sustainable Communities project, which is a species discovery partnership between the Commonwealth Government, BHP, and Earthwatch Australia.
The program has found around 700 new species since its launch in 2010, including 272 species of true bugs, 130 species of spiders and scorpions, 36 species of bees and 11 species of vascular plants.
The 21st Bush Blitz, which kicked off on 26 May in the eastern Kimberley on the Aboriginal owned Karunjie and Durack stations, has already discovered what are believed to be many new species, including new true bugs, spiders, a fish, and pseudoscorpions.
Now the program has discovered a number of new spider species, including a new tarantula, in the Judbarra/Gregory National Park in the Northern Territory.
Five of these species were discovered in a single day, according to Earthwatch CEO professor David McInnes.
“The spider team, lead by Dr Robert Raven from the Queensland Museum, had their heads down all day in search of spider holes, when luck finally struck and they spotted a promising burrow,” McInnes said.
“Sophie Harrison, a PhD student from the University of Adelaide, started digging and found a tarantula so new and different that it doesn’t fit into any of the existing genus of spider species. It looks just as you’d expect, brown and hairy…but the scientists say it’s beautiful,” he added.
“This program is a great example of citizen science, where BHP Billiton employees assist world-class scientists to conduct their research in the field.”
The expedition also found a saddle-kneed trapdoor spider, a flock of endangered Gouldian finches, and eels in unexpected river catchments.