Mysterious Red Fanged, Funnel Web Spider Discovered In Australia

Most people despise these eight-legged freaks we call as, spiders. But this researcher from the Australian National University (ANU) named Mark Wong, was rewarded by discovering an extremely rare funnel web spider earlier this year.

Mysterious Red Fanged, Funnel Web Spider Discovered In AustraliaWhile doing his field work in the Tallaganda National Park near Canberra, Wong was surveying the forest floor for the Australian spider’s characteristic funnel-shaped webs. He lifted a piece of fallen wood, and after probing with a stick, an unusual creature emerged.

She rushed out of her silken lair with her legs raised and fangs greeting me with glistening venom. Instantly taken aback by her colors, I knew there and then this was something special,” he said.

Mysterious Red Fanged, Funnel Web Spider Discovered In AustraliaWhat makes this spider beyond unique is the presence of the bright red patches on the spider’s fangs and head which are supposed to have a black or brown coat for normally funnel web spiders.

According to, David Rowell, a professor in evolutionary genetics at the ANU and Wong’s supervisor, he had never seen such stunning color on a funnel web in his 35 years of study.

You do get a lot of variation in some species. Funnel webs after they’ve moulted can be a pale green, then darken up. Or when females are full of eggs, their abdomens can look purple,” he pointed out.

Mysterious Red Fanged, Funnel Web Spider Discovered In AustraliaWong speculated that other species of funnel web spiders can have red on other parts of their body, so they do have the genes to produce red pigment.

What we are seeing in this particular specimen may be a case where the genes for red pigment are being expressed in the wrong tissue,” he said.

As Nat Geo reported, another theory is that funnel web spiders do create a red pigment similar to his unique specimen, but the red is usually obscured by brown or black melanin pigment.

Perhaps in this specimen, the melanin genes have not been expressed, thus revealing the red pigmentation underneath,” he added.

Scientists do not fully understand why color varies within a spider species. However, Wong pointed out that the change in color is thought to be induced by food type in the Hawaiian happy-face spider, the ability to camouflage among flowers in some crab spiders and the male peacock spider, which uses its array of colors to attract mates.

 

via National Geographic

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