Scientists studying Tasmanian wildlife say one of their discoveries could have implications for the pharmaceutical industry.
The researchers have identified 60 new spider species under a Federally-funded program to document plants and animals in Australia’s natural reserves.
Among the findings are a large, web-throwing spider and a Tasmanian funnel-web spider which has not been seen since the 1920s.
Spider expert Doctor Robert Raven says the funnel-web will be of great interest to pharmaceutical companies that use spider venom to develop new drugs.
“With funnel webs any animal that has an effect on vertebrates, animals with backbones including humans, is always very significant from the pharmaceutical point of view,” he said.
“Every funnel web has a different venom, so that every venom has a potential to produce something more interesting and valuable to pharmaceutical companies.”
The researchers have also found new moths and snails.
Doctor Catherine Young from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery says the research is unusual because of its focus on discovering new species.
“This is a fantastic way of actually getting a lot of the species that are hitherto unknown or undescribed actually known and that has quite significant scientific implications,” she said.