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article imageMeet Brian, the newest spider discovered in Australia

By Georgia Williams     Mar 9, 2016 in Science
Brisbane - Just in time for the first World Science Festival, Australian scientists have discovered a new species of spider that is just as much at home in the water as it is on land.
The Dolomedes briangreenei — the name scientists have given the spider — was found in Brisbane and is the size of the palm of a hand and is known to eat fish, frogs and tadpoles.
The announcement about the newest arachnid was made by Australian Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the opening of the inaugural World Science Festival held in Australia this week.
The Dolomedes briangreenei spider was named in honour of the World Science Festival co-founder and Professor of physics and mathematics Brian Greene, who was also on hand at the unveiling in Brisbane.
"It's wonderful that this beautiful native spider, which relies on waves for its very survival, has found a namesake in a man who is one of the world's leading experts in exploring and explaining the effects of waves in our universe,” said Palaszczuk.
While Australia is home to several of the world’s largest and most lethal spiders and snakes, the Brian Green is not a threat to humans and sets itself a part by its ability to swim and glide on the water. The water hunting spider uses its body to sense vibrations on the surface of the water, or waves, to find prey as well as navigate.
“These spiders sit there on the water and then all of a sudden an insect will hit the water and the spider races out to get it, grabs it, dives under the water and then swims back to the shore and starts eating it,” said Robert Raven, Principal Scientist of Arachnology at the Queensland Museum.
Aside from introducing a new spider to the diverse Australian eco-system scientists are excited about the Dolomedes briangreenei because it has been known to eat an invasive species of toad, known as the Cane toad, which is threatening the Australian coast line.
Known to sit under water for an hour at a time, the aquatic arachnid can overpower prey three times its size, making it a formidable hunter.
When asked how he felt about having a spider named after him, the string theorist said he was, “particularly honored to be so closely associated with a spider that has its own deep affinity for waves.”
More about Australia, Brian Greene, World Science Festival, Spiders
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