Thursday, August 3, 2017

Can Australia Hit America with Trapdoor Spiders #Science #Biology #Travel

Moggridgea rainbow: traveled across the Indian Ocean from South Africa to settle in Australia.

Credit: Nick Birks

Yes, luv, like every other bloody thing in Australia, the trapdoor spider is dangerous but, unlike every other bloody thing in Australia, it probably won't kill you.

Researchers discovered trapdoor spiders are great little travelers.

An Australian trapdoor spider, which usually moves no further than a couple of metres from where it was hatched, must have travelled to Australia over the Indian Ocean from South Africa, University of Adelaide research has shown.

Found only on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, the trapdoor spider - Moggridgea rainbow - lives a very sedentary land-based lifestyle. But research published in the journal PLOS ONE today shows the spider belongs to a genus of trapdoor spiders otherwise found only in South Africa.

"Conventional wisdom had suggested the spiders became split from their South African relations with the separation of Africa from Gondwana around 95 million years ago," says University of Adelaide PhD candidate Sophie Harrison, who also works as a Natural Resources Officer with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

"But our research showed that the divergence of M. rainbowi from African Moggridgea trapdoor spiders occurred sometime between two and 16 million years ago, well after the Africa-Gondwana separation. Likewise, the timing of divergence rules out the other alternative theory for the spiders arrival in Australia - that of being transported with humans, who arrived in Australia much later."
The remaining and most logical theory of dispersal is long-distance ocean travel across the Indian Ocean from Africa to Australia.

"At first thought, this does seem incredible," says Professor Andrew Austin, Ms Harrison's PhD supervisor. "But there are precedents of such ocean travel. Moggridgea are also found on the Comoros volcanic islands, 340 km from mainland Africa, however this is a relatively short distance compared with the 10,000 kms from South Africa to Kangaroo Island."  Trapdoor spiders crossed Indian Ocean to get to Australia

So far, Australia has tried sending trapdoor spiders to America but they only landed in the Pacific Ocean.  America responded by sending an ICBM full of poisonous black widows but that landed in the Pacific Ocean as well.  So it goes with the International Bug Battle.  The Battle hasn't accomplished anything except for making an island in the Pacific someplace you won't ever want to go.

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