'It's weird': Biologist discovers new spider species in Albany

This colourful new species of peacock spider was recently unearthed near Albany

This colourful new species of peacock spider was recently unearthed near Albany

A Sydney-based biologist has discovered a new and very colourful species of spider near Albany.

Jürgen Otto spent three weeks travelling around the Great Southern region of Western Australia, in search of undiscovered spider species.

"I hired a Land Rover for three weeks and I went from place to place and eventually found this spider. Everywhere I look, I seem to find new species," Dr Otto said.

"For a number of years now I have been travelling to that part of the country to find Peacock Spiders."

The discovery came at a time when Dr Otto was feeling quite deflated about his trip.

"At the time I had lots of car trouble. The Land Rover I hired had broken down four times. One day, it took seven hours to get help," he said.

"The trip was quite depressing at this stage, so when I found this spider I was quite happy, because it meant that the trip had been worthwhile."

The 52-year-old said this particular spider would be given a name early next year.


The search for these exotic spiders is done in Dr Otto's spare time, but he said his work was never a chore.

"When you find something new in these peacock spiders it is quite spectacular every time," he said.

"Each species has a brand-new pattern and always very unusual patterns. You can't really predict what you find next. It's like they're designed by somebody, it's weird."

However, Peacock Spiders are about 3 to 5 millimetres in size, which makes spotting them in the bush quite hard.

"You spend all day in the bush walking around and looking on the ground," Dr Otto said.

He said the biggest challenge of the trip was contending with the wet and windy weather near Albany.

His journey began in 2005, when he migrated from Germany to Sydney and accidentally found a specimen in a national park near his house.

"Since then I have made it my mission to document these spiders," he said.

"At the time there was only one species that was known. Now we've got 65 named species."

More than 3.6 million people have watched his YouTube video of Maratus speciosus - a species of Peacock Spider - wiggling its orange-feathered behind in a courtship dance.

This story 'It's weird': Biologist discovers new spider species in Albany first appeared on WA Today.