A new type of deadly funnel-web spider has been discovered, and it lives in trees

The funnel web. Image: Stuart Hay, ANU

Scientists have found a new type of deadly funnel-web spider living in a tree at Booderee National Park near Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The 50 millimetre spider is believed to be a species of the tree-dwelling genus Hadronyche, not the ground-dwelling genus Atrax which includes the Sydney funnel-web.

“It’s remarkable that we have found this other species in Booderee National Park,” says biologist Thomas Wallenius from The Australian National University.

“It shows we still have a lot to learn about what’s out there in the bush. It may even turn out to be a new species of funnel-web.”

Image: Stuart Hay, ANU

The discovery is part of a larger biodiversity study of the area.

Dr Wallenius was searching for funnel-webs when he found a female in her lair, a rotting log.

“They build a silk-lined burrow inside the hollow log which can be up to two metres long. She had probably been living in there for 25 to 30 years,” he says.

Funnel-web spiders have killed at least 13 people but there have been no deaths since an anti-venom was developed in 1981.

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