Mygalomorphs are an ancient group of spiders that have remained almost unchanged for millions of years.
UNLIKE MODERN SPIDERS, which have pincer-like biting apparatus, mygalomorphs have dagger-like fangs that they thrust downwards in a ‘pick-axe’ motion.
These spiders are powerful predators that can take down prey larger than themselves. Females tend to be more solid-bodied and spend most of their lives ensconced in their burrows. Males, which leave their burrows at maturity to wander in search of mates, have a slighter build and are often more brightly coloured.
Australia has many hundreds of different mygalomorphs in numerous families with new species being discovered every year. They can be found living in almost every environment, from our harsh deserts to wet rainforests and, to the horror of arachnophobes, suburban backyards!
These tend to be large, hairy spiders.
Our biggest tarantulas, for example, can attain a massive leg-span of 240mm. But, at the other end of the size scale, our smallest curtain-web spiders have a total length of just 6mm.
Here we show a representative species from each of the major mygalomorph families found in Australia.