Mamma Mia! Meet the new spider species named after pop band ABBA

PERTH, Australia — Spider fans are screaming “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” thanks to a pair of scientists in Australia, who are naming a new species after the famous pop band ABBA. Dr. Pedro Castanheira and Dr. Volker Framenau say this new crawler owes its name to one simple fact — they’re both big fans of the Swedish supergroup!

Abba transversa is currently the only member of this new genus. It’s extremely tiny, measuring just three to four millimeters. So far, researchers have only found the unique spider along the coastal areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

This new group of spiders is part of a much larger family called Araneidae — or orb-weaving spiders. Overall, these creatures are easily identifiable, thanks to their unique eye pattern, an abdomen that normally overlaps the carapace, and complex genitalia. The Araneidae family contains 188 genera and 3,119 species worldwide.

Abba vinyl sleeve
ABBA vinyl sleeve (Photo by Andrew Ebrahim on Unsplash)

‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’

The researchers say Abba transversa is different from other orb weavers because of two dark spots in the middle of their abdomen and thick macrosetae (long hair or bristles) on the first pair of legs on the males.

The discovery comes after 15 years of scientific work, where Castanheira and Framenau examined 12,000 records in Australian museums and worldwide collections.

“Describing new taxa is vital for conservation management plans to assess biodiversity and protect forests areas across Australia,” Dr. Castanheira says in a media release. “Currently, 80% of Australian spider species are unknown, and many of the described ones are misplaced in different genera, like Abba transversa used to be.”

abba spider
Abba transversa (Rainbow, 1912) comb. nov., male (QM S88101). A, dorsal habitus; B, ventral habitus; C, left pedipalp, ventral view; D, left pedipalp, dorsal view. Scale bars: 1 mm (A, B); 0.1 mm (C, D). (Credit: Evolutionary Systematics)

As for their unique name, the duo says they were looking for a way to honor their musical heroes, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

The band’s “songs and subsequent musicals Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia – Here We Go again! (2018), provided hours of entertainment for the authors,” they explain in their study, published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.

wax figures ABBA
Wax figures of the music group ABBA (Photo by pasja1000 from Pixabay)

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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