While it might make most of us a little squeamish, Dr. Greta Binford is deeply honored by having a new species of spider named after her.
The Austrarchaea binfordae was named by two of Binford’s colleagues Michael Nix and Mark Harvey.
Binford, who is an associate professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., was extremely honored.
“I am overwhelmed, excited and feel very humbled,” she said. “This is really quite an honor. Not only is it an honor for me, but really for my entire family as it has our family name. I hope Dad is as excited about this as I am. To know that you will be associated with something permanent is really something I can’t describe.”
Binford, a North Montgomery High School graduate, said she had an idea Harvey might be up to something after she had spent time in Austria in a “hot spot” helping identify species of spiders that are only found in that location.
“He asked me if I ever had anything named after me would I like it to be Gretae or Binfordae,” she said. “I said Bindfordae, of course, that way my entire family could share the honor.”
Binford was honored because of “her pioneering research on spider venomous and for contributing to a highly successful basal clades tour.”
Binford said the spider named in her honor is only about 2 mm big and is “a little weird looking.”
“It has a very large head compared to its body and long neck,” she said. “It almost looks like a giraffe and it eats other spiders.”
Austrarchaea binfordae is found only in lowland subtropical rain forest habitats in the Kerewong and Lorne State Forests, near Wauchope, New South Wales.
Binford has not actually seen the species of spider named after her. She brought back some spiders she collected on that tour and she and her students are studying them. She is currently working on two grants — one dealing with the venom of the brown recluse spider.
On her website Binford states, “Our current research is focused on brown recluse and their relatives (Loxosceles). We have discovered that the toxin in venoms of Loxosceles that causes dermonecrotic lesions is also present in venoms of some species in the closely related genus Sicarius. This means this toxin likely originated in an ancestor of these two types of spiders.”
The first is to study the venom of the brown recluse and the other is studying another “hot spot” in the Caribbean region.
Binford joined the faculty at Lewis and Clark in 2003. She earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Miami University of Ohio, a master’s of science degree from the University of Utah and a doctorate degree from the University of Arizona.∫