Scientists in Australia have identified a new species of spider… and named it “Brian.”
Found near Brisbane, Brians (full name dolomedes briangreenei) spend their days flitting about on the surfaces of godforsaken Australian streams, waiting until an insect, fish, or tadpole comes near them. They then grab their prey, drag them back to land, and eat them.
The palm-sized Brians kill prey up to three times their size. They locate victims by monitoring vibrations on the surface tension of water. That ability to hunt through waves accounts for their moniker: They are named after Columbia University physicist Brian Greene, a string theory pioneer who also walks on water and hunts tadpoles. [Editor’s note: he probably doesn’t do those things.]
“Physics is all about waves; understanding the universe is all about waves,” Greene said. “With the announcement last month of humankind’s first detection of gravitational waves — ripples on the surface of space and time — I am particularly honored to be so closely associated with a spider that has its own deep affinity for waves.”
When radioactive gamma waves from a waste spill cause them to grow to the size of cars, Brian spiders will surely hunt you for sport, but currently, they aren’t harmful to people. [Editor’s note: as far as we know.]
“I’ve been bitten by this spider and it’s not particularly dangerous,” Robert Raven, Principal Scientist of Arachnology at the Queensland Museum, told Mashable Australia. “It just stung for a little while.”
“These spiders are an abomination, and Nature itself is a hierarchy of murder,” Raven did not add.
Image Credit: National Geographic