Terrifying ‘Assassin Spider’ Discovered In Australia With Bizarre, ‘Spear-Like’ Features


Terrifying ‘Assassin Spider’ Discovered In Australia With Bizarre, ‘Spear-Like’ Features

Image: G. Anderson and M. Rix

A new ‘assassin spider’ species has been discovered in Australia’s Conway National Park, with unique spear-like legs for hunting.

Australia has been making a lot of headlines recently, some good, some not so good: from its world-leading stance on psychedelics to the mental health crisis that fuelled the push for legalisation, from its eye-watering living costs to its spine-tingling nature, Australia’s got it all.

However, what always sets Australia apart from the rest of the world is its sometimes-terrifying natural cohabitants… this week, scientists have discovered a new spider species, and these creepy crawlies are already making headlines. Catchily known as Whitsunday hinterland pelican spiders, these creatures are part of a “bizarre group” of predators that have recently been documented in the Whitsundays, Queensland.

Over the past year, Australian researchers visited Conway National Park multiple times to survey local wildlife and search for these elusive spiders, scientifically referred to as Austrarchaea. Pelican spiders, sometimes called “assassin spiders,” have a unique hunting method, capturing and manipulating prey with their “long, spear-like” legs.

Image: G. Anderson and M. Rix

Experts were on the lookout for these apparently “poorly researched” pelican spiders when they stumbled upon eight unfamiliar specimens. After closer examination, the researchers realised they had discovered a new species altogether, now named Austrarchaea andersoni.

These spiders are distinctive, with a reddish-brown colour and wholly unusual body shape. They are tiny, just over 0.2 cm long, and have two pairs of “rudimentary horns” and “hump-like” bumps on their abdomens. When their legs are extended, the spiders’ peculiar, gangly physique is fully revealed, adding to their indisputably eerie appearance.

The Whitsunday hinterland pelican spiders were discovered in the leaf litter on the rainforest floor of Conway National Park. So far, this species has only been found in this particular area, making it something of a rare find.

The “andersoni” part of their name was granted in honour of arachnologist Greg Anderson, who first collected the specimens in 2023. Currently, these spiders are preserved in 75% ethanol at the Queensland Museum in South Brisbane, where they await further study, including full DNA analysis.

Spiders, Snakes, And Crocodiles

Image: Nine

From spiders to snakes, the Aussies have got it all, but late last year a saltwater crocodile rose to viral fame after sneaking up on an utterly oblivious fisherman on The Russell River, just south of Cairns. The video — which you can watch below — was quickly picked up by major news outlets like The Independent and shows the man happily casting his line into the river whole just meters away an apparently famous crocodile known as “Clyde” slowly creeps up behind him…

While the incident is pretty scary in of itself — with many commenting on and sharing the video in an effort to check in on the man’s health and wellbeing — the video has actually sparked a much wider discussion around the safety of the prehistoric animals, rather than the busy-fishing human

Watch the full video of that terrifying incident at your peril…