Spider named after Christchurch academic

RESPECTED: Canterbury University adjunct professor Simon Pollard has had a spider named after him.

After years of studying spiders, adjunct professor Simon Pollard now has one named after him.

Previously, the small jumping spider commonly found on buildings and gardens, did not have a species name.

It will now be known as Trite Pollardi.

Dr Pollard is Canterbury University adjunct professor of science communication.

He said he felt proud to have a native spider named after him.

“When I found out, I wanted to find one in my garden at home and tell him or her that they were named after me.”

At about 5mm long, Trite pollardi is a very flat spider and looks like it has been pressed like a flower between the pages of a book, Prof Pollard said.

“Its flatness allows it to hide in very narrow crevices, which is why it is often found on the outside of houses.”

Prof Pollard said jumping spiders had excellent eyesight.

“And when you look into their two big front eyes, they tend to look back. Their six other eyes are mostly for sensing movement and distance.”

Previously, this species was called Holoplatys sp. as it did not have a species name, but was placed in the genus Holoplatys.

Recently, Marek Żabka, a jumping spider taxonomist from Poland, who had spent three months in Aotearoa New Zealand studying our native jumping spiders, revised this spider’s taxonomic status.

It has been placed in the genus Trite and renamed Trite pollardi in honour of Prof Pollard.

An award-winning author, Prof Pollard spent much of 2016 advising Te Papa and Weta Workshop on the $5 million Bug Lab science exhibition, which is touring internationally.

He was also the advisor for a spider sequence on the BBC David Attenborough series, The Hunt.