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I was recently pouring over the excellent book –  Voyages of Discovery A Visual Celebration of Ten of the Greatest Natural History Expeditions by Dr. Tony Rice. The chapter (Charting Australia 1801-1805  Mathew Flinders and Ferdinand Bauer) details some of  Bauer’s finest botanical illustrations from this voyage.

The reproduced plate (opposite) on page 221 amongst a few finely detailed sea creatures describes ” Also common in Australian waters was the spider crab, Gasteracantha mimax.” The description of this image appears to be incorrect as the plate also shows the completely black (melanic) specimens that also occur in both male and female Six-spined Spiders (Austracantha minax).

These tiny spiders are commonly found across Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge in the dry forests, grasslands and heath. “Also called the Jewel or Christmas spider. They capture insects by web and the egg sac is wrapped around a twig and then abandoned by the female. Found across all States and territories of Australia. Male body length 3-4mm. Female 8-10mm.”

Reference.  Honan, P.  A Wild Australia Guide- Spiders.

Image top left – Six-spined Spider on the wildlife refuge.

Images to right Bauer illustrations.

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An exploration into...
By Jeff Keyes