5 minutes with Dr Barbara Baehr, Arachnologist

Today’s #CouchCurator is Arachnologist, Dr Barbara Baehr who is sharing some of her favourite items from the Collection.

What is your favourite object/species in the collection and why?

Well I guess it is the Intertidal Bob Marley Spider “Desis bobmarleyi” as this species lives in the intertidal zone between high tide and low tide. We named this spider after the reggae legend Bob Marley because of his song “High Tide or Low Tide”.

The song ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ promotes love and friendship through all struggles of life, which we need most in these special times. “It is his music that assisted us in on a field trip to Port Douglas in coastal Queensland, Australia, to collect spiders with this highly unique biology.”

Do you have any interesting facts about your specialty area?

As a taxonomist I described more than 650 spider species mostly out of the Queensland Museums Collection. The Queensland Museums Collection is unique in the world and represents Queensland’s most spectacular Biodiversity. This Collection deserves World Heritage status.

The amazing Long Spinneret Bark Spiders (Hersiliidae) were the first family that I revised. From 4 known species at that time this family inhabits now 57 species.

The most enchanting spiders are off course the Peacock Spiders (Maratus: Salticidae) which have grown from around 10 described species ten years ago to now 85 described species.

Tell us a little bit about your area and why do you love working in this specific research area?

It is the extraordinary Biodiversity of the Australian Fauna represented in the Queensland Museum’s Collection that fascinated me over the last 20 years and brought me to Australia.

What is your favourite thing about your role at the museum? Why?

Discovering all this new forms of life that nobody has seen before is the most amazing thing which I loved during the last 40 years of being a taxonomist.

What is one of the most interesting facts you have discovered through working at the museum?

You know in Germany 99% of the Spider fauna is described. Their distribution and their preferred habitat is known.

In Australia only 30% of the Spider fauna is described and we rarely know anything about their distribution or their habitat but it is all in the Queensland Museum’s Collection! It just need to be worked on.

What is your favourite gallery/exhibition at the museum (current or past) and why?

The Spiders – The Exhibition of course but I love the Wild State as well.

Anything else you would like to add?

We need many more Taxonomist in order to unravel the treasures of the Queensland Museum’s Collection.

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