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Nightmare Warning: Monstrous Spider Creeps up on Scientist

| 20 Oct 2014 16:55

Scientist runs into elusive Goliath birdeater spider in rainforest of Guyana.

"When I turned on the light, I couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," said entomologist Piotr Naskrecki. When he heard the rustling of dry leaves during a nighttime rainforest trek in Guyana, he expected it to be a small animal running by. Once he turned on his flashlight, what he saw would have terrified most people - and in fact, even the entomologist was seized by a moment of fear.

Two-inch fangs. Eight legs up to one foot in length. A body the size of "a large fist," Naskrecki told Live Science. It was the elusive South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), the world's largest spider, as per Guinness World Records.

Naskrecki's initial fear response quickly turned to ecstasy at finding the "almost mythical" creature. "I've been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times," he said.

The spider's two-inch fangs carry a venomous bite, but one that isn't deadly to humans. Still, they would hurt, "like driving a nail through your hand," Naskrecki said. The creature has another defense mechanism, which is similar to Mace in its effects: by running its hind legs against its abdomen, the spider sends out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them. When these hairs get in the eyes or other mucous membranes, they are "extremely painful and itchy," and can stay there for days, said Naskrecki.

Still, the spider doesn't pose a threat to humans. "A chicken can probably do more damage," Naskrecki said. It doesn't even hunt birds, despite its name, though it is capable of killing small animals. "They will essentially attack anything that they encounter," the entomologist said.

Oh, and let me preempt your comments on this piece:

NOPE.

Do not want.

Kill it with fire.

How did I do?

Source: Piotr Naskrecki

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