Research: Australian spider named after cult band Abba

Australian spider named after cult band Abba

Mamma Mia! Australian spider researchers have dedicated a newly discovered species from the spider kingdom to the Swedish cult band Abba. photo

© Volker W. Framenau/Murdoch University/dpa

A team of researchers in Australia is showing creativity when naming new species – after their wives and a footballer, it is now the turn of the famous Swedes Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid.

Abba the Spider: Australian spider researchers have immortalized the Swedish cult band in the name of a group of orb-weaver spiders. According to a statement from the university, Abba is one of the favorite bands of the two scientists Volker Framenau and Pedro Castanheira from Murdoch University in Perth.

So far, only one species is known from the newly named genus, Abba transversa. The spider, which is only three to four millimeters in size, is native to the coastal areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

Abba provided entertainment

“The genre name honors the Swedish pop group ABBA, whose songs and subsequent musicals Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again! (2018) provided the authors with hours of entertainment,” says the study by the two researchers in the journal “Evolutionary Systematics”. The species was therefore already discovered in Australia in 1912, but has only now been scientifically correctly described. Previously, it was assigned to the Araneus genus, which earlier spider researchers used to use as a “dump” for species that could not be clearly assigned.

According to the two researchers, there are currently 230 described species in the orb-weaver spider family (Araneidae), which are divided into 46 genera. For the description of the group, 12,000 specimens in Australian museums and collections overseas have been evaluated over a period of 15 years. “A total of just over 4,000 species of spiders have been described in Australia and, according to estimates, between 10,000 and 15,000 species are still unnamed,” Framenau told the German Press Agency.

Preference for special names

Spiders of the Araneidae family are known for building spherical webs. The new genus differs from other groups of the family by having two dark spots on the body and typical hairs on the first pair of male legs.

Framenau and Castanheira had previously shown a penchant for special names: In honor of football and Australian sports legend Johnny Warren, they named an orb-weaver spider species Socca johnnywarreni, as Murdoch University reported at the end of last year. The Art Socca arena is now also available.

According to the university, the wives of both researchers had previously been immortalized in species names. Castanheira is quoted as saying that naming spiders can be fascinating – as with Socca elvispresleyi: “When we saw that part of the male genitalia looked exactly like Elvis’ hair, there was only one name we could give her.”


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