WEBBY COUSINS …

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Two groups of highly venomous spiders might be seeing more of each other at family reunions. A new study led by San Diego State University biologist Marshal Hedin has found that two lineages of dangerous arachnids found in Australia–long classified as distantly related in the official taxonomy–are, in fact, relatively close evolutionary cousins. The findings could help in the development of novel antivenoms, as well as point to new forms of insecticides. The spiders in question are those from the families Atracinae and Actinopodidae and include Australian funnel-web spiders and eastern Australian
mouse spiders, respectively. One member of Atracinae, Atrax robustus, is considered by many to be the most venomous spider in the world.