Hairy Globetrotter

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Hairy globetrotter
13th October 2017

By Lloyd Lugsden

A trapdoor spider found in only two places on earth probably travelled by raft from South Africa to Australia millions of years ago.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide have discovered the dispersal of the spider took place between two and 16 million years ago and not as a result of the continental drift millions of years earlier.

The trapdoor spider, or Moggridgea rainbow, is found only on Kangaroo Island off South Australia. But research by University of Adelaide PhD candidate Sophie Harrison showed the spider belonged to a genus otherwise found only in South Africa.

Professor Andrew Austin, Harrison’s PhD supervisor, said the logical explanation was a 10,000km journey across the Indian Ocean indicated the spiders could have accidentally travelled by drifting on vegetation debris.