Along Came A Spider and Snail, inspired by the Irwins

In commemoration of Steve Irwin Day (November 15), Queensland Museum reflects on the species they’ve named in honour of the Wildlife Warriors. From a striking new species of snail, to a discovery of miniscule arachnid proportions, we’re admiring the Irwin legacy and the creatures they inspire.

At a Snail’s Pace

2009 sparked the start of the Irwin tribute, as a new species and genus of snail came into detection. Determined as a rare breed of tree snail, Queensland Museum honorary and snail whisperer, Dr  John Stanisic, sited the unexpected location of the gastropod.

“So far it has only been found in three locations, all on the summits of high mountains in far north Queensland and at altitudes above 1,000 metres, which is quite unusual for Australian land snails”

Dr John Stanisic, 2009

The snail itself presented a distinguished colour scheme of creamy yellow, orange-brown and chocolate, creating an overall khaki appearance. Noticing the striking familiarity between the shell and the iconic uniform worn by the late Steve Irwin, Dr Stanisic titled the rare species Crikey steveirwini; a name Terri Irwin noted Steve would approve of.

In other snail news, Terri also became the inspiration behind a species of red-striped snail, called Protolinitis terriirwinae. This snail originates from the rainforest within the Mossman to Cape Tribulation area in North Queensland.

8 Legs and 1 New Species

Flash forward to 2014, where the discovery of the new species of spider took place in Mt Aberdeen in North East Queensland, as Queensland Museum research fellow Dr Barbara Baehr and senior curator Dr Robert Raven came across the small yet significant seven millimetre find.  

Blending into the earthy landscape, the eight legged wanderer has been described as predominately brown with a distinctive white stripe pattern on the abdomen, with white legs.

Thriving in the granite terrain, the tiny arachnid displayed a side of tenacity and speed, instantly reminding Dr Baehr of Terri Irwin, who she described as a fast and straight thinking woman. And so, the spider was aptly named Leichhardteus terriirwinae, before being inducted into Queensland Museum’s record breaking year with the discovery of 221 new species.

Terri vs Terriirwinae

Whilst a terrifying thought to some, Terri was honoured to be named after the new species, acknowledging the Queensland Museum and its passion for the special little creatures.

“The Queensland Museum continues to inspire us all with new species regularly discovered, and Dr Baehr and Dr Raven are absolute legends with their passion for these special little creatures”

Terry Irwin, 2013

Back in 2013, Dr Baehr, had described 104 spiders as part of the 221 new species, now her repertoire extends over 600 new species from Australia. She’s quite the arachnid enthusiast.

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