Australia

Scientists discover tiny spider species

A jumping spider Jotus fortiniae is among five new species discovered by scientists in Australia. (AAP)

A Queensland Museum arachnologist has helped identify five new species of tiny Brushed Jumping Spiders the size of a grain of rice.

Deep in Germany's Black Forest, arachnologist Barbara Baehr first discovered the fascination with spiders that led her to Australia.

Not so much the big hairy ones, but the tiny little spiders, like five new species of brushed jumping spiders she's found.

Little spiders have more interesting features and characteristics, Dr Baehr told AAP on Tuesday.

With most of Europe's arachnids already identified, she moved to Australia where scientists estimate more than 70 per cent of spiders remain unclassified.

Some 3500 species of Australian spiders have been classified but scientists believe that number will eventually soar past 10,000 species.

Dr Baehr has classified dozens of spiders with the latest being tiny Australian jumping spiders - barely the size of a grain of rice.

Along with colleagues Dr Joseph Schubert from Monash University and Dr Danilo Harms from the University of Hamburg, Dr Baehr has discovered five new species.

"Jumping spiders are among some of the most beautiful spiders in Australia, yet almost nothing is known about their diversity and taxonomic identity," Dr Baehr said.

"These tiny spiders are quick to capture the hearts of the public and naturalists."

Four of the five new species are from Queensland and one is from New South Wales. At only a few millimetres, they can be difficult to spot.

The male brushed jumping spider is known for an elaborate mating dance involving a brush of long and often colourful setae on their legs (like butterflies).

The five are close relatives of the Australian peacock spiders which also perform courtship dances for females.

One spider in particular with its large black eyes like sunglasses and its black and white front legs lead to it being named after late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.

The new species are:

* Jotus albimanus - White-handed Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: New England National Park, New South Wales

* Jotus fortiniae , Found: Cape York Peninsula, Quinkan Country, Queensland

* Jotus karllagerfeldi - Karl Lagerfeld's Jumping Spider, Found: Lake Broadwater via Dalby, Queensland

* Jotus moonensis - Mount Moon Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: Mount Moon, Queensland

* Jotus newtoni - Mark Newton's Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: Lake Broadwater via Dalby, Queensland

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