Tom Hardy and his Marvel character Venom have given their names to a newly discovered Australian spider. The genus Venomius and its only current species Venomius tomhardyi were described following an expedition to Tasmania.
Scientists MSc Giullia Rossi, Dr Pedro Castanheira and Dr Volker Framenau from Murdoch University ( Perth, Australia) partnered with Dr Renner Baptista from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to describe the new genus of orb-weaving spiders published in the open access journal Evolutionary Systematics.
Tom Hardy portrays Eddie Brock and his alter-ego Venom, an antihero closely associated with Spider-Man, across two Marvel films and gives his name to the sole species of the new genus. The distinctive black spots on the arachnid’s abdomen reminded the scientists of Venom’s head, inspiring them to select the unusual name.
The genus belongs to the Araneidae family of spiders, or Araneae, that build upright circular webs to capture prey. Despite resembling the related genus Phonognatha as both do not have tubercles on the abdomen, the newly described spiders are distinct in their behaviour of creating silk-lined holes in the branches of trees for shelter, as well as their different genitalia.
The holotype of the new species was discovered and subsequently preserved at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery following an expedition to Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Researchers also sourced supplementary specimens from scientific arachnology collections, with researchers examining approximately 12,000 records in Australian and overseas institutions.
“It is really important to keep describing new spiders to assess the total biodiversity of these predators in Australia,” added the study’s first author MSc Giullia Rossi.
Rossi GF, Castanheira PS, Baptista RLC, Framenau VW (2023) Venomius, a new monotypic genus of Australian orb-weaving spiders (Araneae, Araneidae). Evolutionary Systematics 7(2): 285-292. https://doi.org/10.3897/evolsyst.7.110022