New species of huge spider found in Asia

Poecilotheria rajaei

Arachnophobes beware: an enormous, previously unknown species of spider as big as a human’s face and described as “fast and venomous” has been discovered in Asia.

Giant tarantulas with legs that span eight inches have been found in a remote village in Sri Lanka.

The spiders, which also have unusual yellow markings on their legs and a pink band around their bodies, were found living in the old doctor’s quarters of a hospital in the war-torn northern Sri Lankan province of Mankulam by scientists from Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research organization.

The spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colorful, fast and venomous, according to the website wired.co.uk.

“As a group, the spiders are related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, the world’s largest,” it added.

The giant arachnids have been named Poecilotheria rajaei, in honor of Michael Rajakumar Purajah, a senior police official who led the research team through a hazardous stretch of jungle ravaged by civil unrest, according to The Telegraph.

The spider had originally been presented to Biodiversity Education and Research members three years ago by villagers in Mankulam who had killed a male specimen.

Scientists immediately realized the dead spider was different from known varieties and a group was charged with finding similar arachnids, according to Sky News.

Biodiversity Education and Research co-founder Ranil Nanayakkara said the tarantula species is quite rare.

“They prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings,” he told wired.co.uk.

In other reports Nanayakkara is quoted as saying none of the tarantulas found in Sri Lanka have bites that are deadly to humans. However, the Poecilotheria rajaei would be able to kill animals as large as mice, lizards and small birds and snakes.

Peter Kirk, who covered the discovery for the British Tarantula Society’s journal, told Sky News: “Ranil has been working on these spiders since 2009 out in Sri Lanka and this is the first of what is thought to be a number of new species he has discovered in what was previously the inaccessible northern region of the island.”

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12 thoughts on “New species of huge spider found in Asia

  1. Heard about this the other day. If there’s anything I have a greater aversion for more than a shark, it’s a spider. And one that size is double creepy. Something about them; probably the deal about the 8 legs. Any plans for a future visit to Sri Lanka?

    • Between the endless civil strife and giant spiders, probably not. Spiders don’t bother me much, but whenever you find critters like this, there tend to be others that are equally fascinating and potentially dangerous, such as crocodiles and large venomous snakes.

  2. Spiders affect me in much the same way as snakes; that is, if I see them first – I’m OK. With that said, if one should sneak up on me, some type of primal evolutionary fear hits me hard right in the gut. Even something as harmless as a garter snake will frighten me if I am not expecting it. I would have also added a black snake to the harmless category until I found out by accident that they WILL charge you during their spring mating season. I was driving down an old, gravel country road and saw a 5 foot long black snake (I do not exaggerate). I brought my truck to a stop after passing the snake and was approximately 25 ft. away and started tossing pebbles at it (idiotic thing to do). He seemed to ignore me until one pebble hit close to the snake and that sucker must have charged me at 20 MPH (REPEAT – I NEVER exaggerate – GRIN). It did not take me long to get back into my pick-up truck. At least I was cautious enough to be at the driver’s door with the door open when this harmless critter charged me.

    • I will remember not to throw stones at 5 foot black snakes while on the back roads. 😉

      Actually, I’m not surprised at how fast it came at you; they can move very quickly over short distances. And let’s face it, any snake moving at you aggressively is going to appear to be moving very, very quickly.

  3. Large, fast, venomous and new to science and found in an old doctors quarters in the jungle? Is it just me or is anyone else seeing unauthorized genetic experimentation here? 😉 Hollywood producers should be beating a path to the door!! 😀

  4. metan said: “Hollywood producers should be beating a path to the door!!”

    It does indeed sound like the plot of a Grade B movie like the ones seen on the SciFi Channel. The critters then take over the world bit by bit, replacing mankind at the top of the food chain. Well, I guess I’ve given away the type of movies I watch; although, instead of the scary factor, I watch them for the humor. I used to love (actually still do) those “Mystery Science Theater” flicks with the little cartoon characters in the corner of the screen making sarcastic comments.

  5. Pingback: A new species of bass to ignore your lure | The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

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