Arachnology is the study of the group of animals called arachnids. Arachnids include spiders, scorpions, harvestmen, ticks and mites.

Redback spider - Latrodectus hasseltii
Redback spider - Latrodectus hasseltii. This specimen has been pinned and dried for exhibition display. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

  • Arachnids are animals that have:

    • eight walking legs
    • two main body parts
    • jaws adapted for tearing or piercing prey
    • simple eyes
    • a skeleton outside the body

About the Collection

The Australian Museum Arachnology collection includes arachnids (spiders and their relatives), myriapods (centipedes and millipedes and their relatives), onychophorans (velvet worms), and tardigrades (water bears). The Arachnida represent the largest proportion of the collections, at about 95%. The collection includes many type lots of which a third are primary types (types are the original specimens from which the first description of a particular species is based).

The major portion of the Arachnology collection is spiders (Araneae) and harvestmen (Opiliones). The emphasis of the collection is on the New South Wales fauna, although there are significant holdings from other states and regions.

Highlights of the collection include the largest collection of funnel-web spiders in Australia and one of the largest collection of harvestmen (Opiliones) in Australia. The spider collection also includes examples of the world's most primitive living spiders, the Liphistiids from Southeast Asia. Of historical interest are the collections of W.J Rainbow and V.V Hickman, well known Australian arachnologists of previous eras.

Arachnology Collection Area 2018
Part of the Arachnology Collection 'wet' area. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum