New spider species honours surfing icon
Australian surfing legend Mick Fanning has added another title to his belt thanks to Queensland Museum, with a new species of spider being named in his honour.
As part of the recent World Science Festival Brisbane, the Queensland Museum gave the public a chance to have the rare honour of naming a new species of water spider, which drew hundreds of entries from around the world.
Entrants were asked to pick a name that captured the essence of not only the spider, but drew inspiration from World Science Festival Brisbane, World Water Day or a Queensland connection.
Queensland Premier and Arts Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was fitting the water spider was named for Mick Fanning, given his illustrious surfing career and connection to Queensland.
“Both Mick Fanning and the Queensland scientists who discovered this new species of spider are world leaders in their respective fields, so it’s fitting to bring the two together in this way,” the Premier said.
“It’s important to celebrate what makes Queensland special – from our talented sporting heroes, trail-blazing scientists and fascinating biodiversity, to our success in hosting big cultural events like World Science Festival Brisbane.”
Queensland Museum Network CEO and Director Professor Suzanne Miller said it was the second year running that the World Science Festival Brisbane had played a part in naming a new species of spider.
“In 2016, we named a surfing spider Dolomedes briangreenei in honour of World Science Festival co-founder and astrophysicist Brian Greene and this year the surfing theme has followed suit, with the winning entry named for the Australian surfing legend,” she said.
Hector Manuel Osório Gonzalez Filho from Brazil who is a fan of surfing and an arachnologist submitted the winning name mickfanningi in honour of the Australian surfer, whose favourite break is at Snapper Rocks in Queensland.
Mick Fanning said it was quite a surprise to find out a new species of spider would share his namesake.
“It was certainly a surprise to learn that there will be a little water spider out there that is named in my honour,” he said.
“It’s pretty awesome to know that the spider is quite local to the Gold Coast and only a short drive from Snapper.”
Queensland Museum arachnologist Dr Robert Raven said the new spider, Pisauridae mickfanningi is quite delicate and ornate with a beautiful pattern on its back, it can be found in the vine thickets and rainforests near Canungra at the foot of the road on the way to Lamington.
“What makes this species even more special is that it has a very distinct colour pattern and quite different genitalia, which makes it quite easy to differentiate between others in the group,” Dr Raven said.
As the head of Australia’s most active arachnological unit, Dr Robert Raven and his team have described over 1000 new species of spider.
Dr Raven said he was impressed with the calibre of entries and even drew the species common name and genus from the pool of entries.
“We have decided to make the genus name Rainforest Sprites as suggested by Jude McAuley and the common name Masked Wood Spider, which was suggested by Ricardo Leite,” he said.
Brisbane is the only city in the Asia-Pacific region to host the World Science Festival Brisbane, which will be hosted by Queensland Museum until 2021.
The 2018 World Science Festival Brisbane will be held from 21-25 March.
Live Spider with same pattern as mickfanningi – Photo Credit – Ben Revell. – This similar species to Pisauridae mickfanningi has the same pattern on its back