35,000 species of spiders have been described throughout the
world. Spiders live in almost every habitat on earth. The only
places where there are no spiders are the polar regions and
are thousands of species of spiders in Australia, and most of
them are harmless. Only Sydney Funnel-web
and Red-back spiders are known to
have caused deaths. Fewer than 30 people have died in Australia
as a result of spider bites, and none have been recorded since
are not insects!
are related to insects - both belong to a large group of animals
called arthropods (meaning 'jointed feet')
that have hard external skeletons and jointed limbs. What sets
spiders apart is that true spiders always have spinnerets, the
organs used for spinning silk.
were among the earliest land animals. The oldest spider fossil
known is called Attercopus fimbriungis. It lived 380
million years ago, some 200 million years before the first dinosaurs
million year old spider found at Koonwarra in Victoria.
Large and Small
spiders are so small that we never notice them. The smallest
are the tiny Armoured Spiders with a body the size of a pinhead.
They live in leaf litter and moss.
largest spider in the world is the massive Goliath tarantula,
Theraphosa leblondi. Fully grown, its legs can span
a dinner plate.