Oh, Good: Face-Sized Spiders Discovered in Sri Lanka

The words "spider" and "face-sized" should probably never be used in a sentence together.

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Ranil Nanayakkara

Tiger Spider Genus Poecilotheria.

Some thing may forever haunt our dreams. Like the words “spider” and “face-sized” used in a sentence together.

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And yet here those words are, straight from northern Sri Lanka, where scientists say they’ve discovered a new type of giant tarantula with a leg span of up to eight inches. Grab your rulers and mirrors, because yep, that’s about the average length of a human noggin.

As if that weren’t frightening enough (or cool enough — you pick), this particular spider was found living in trees. Anyone who’s ever walked beneath a tree and wound up brushing away a tiny spider knows that some arachnids enjoy an arboreal life, dangling from silken threads to surprise unsuspecting trail-walkers. Now imagine one the size of a volleyball landing on you like one of the facehuggers from Alien.

And in case you were thinking they probably look far worse than they are, this one’s actually quite venomous. Oh, and fast — because of course it is. So now imagine being chased by a poisonous, sprinting, face-sized spider.

But okay, let’s focus on saying nicer things about this poor not-so-little spider for a moment. According to Wired:

Covered in beautiful, ornate markings, the spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, known as “Pokies” for short. These are the tiger spiders, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colourful, fast, and venomous. As a group, the spiders are related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, the world’s largest.

Yes, we know of at least two spiders bigger, not that that’s any consolation: The “goliath bird-eater” mentioned above (its name probably speaks for itself), and the appropriately cave-dwelling “giant huntsman,” the world’s largest spider, with an average leg span of — avert your eyes, arachnophobes! — a full 12 inches.

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92 comments
amandayoyay1
amandayoyay1

awesome i want to go to sri lanka and see that spider now!!!!!!!!!!!!

ICouldSewDoThat
ICouldSewDoThat

I am now crossing Sri Lanka of my list of future travel destinations forevermore. AAAAAH!

shinngenn
shinngenn

I wouldn't go outside for good TT 

AravindaRathnayake
AravindaRathnayake

just to letting you guys know we have giant huntsman spiders and giant wood spider in Sri Lanka tow :)

hummingbird
hummingbird

Asia, Africa and South America have some exotic creatures that you really don't want to encounter. Stay out of the jungles and you should be fine...I think.

SpiderFox
SpiderFox

What about Camel Spiders?  I'm surprised there is no mention of them...  I did two tours in Iraq and saw several of them.  They can grow to nearly a foot (although I never saw any THAT big).  Talk about scary (and that's saying a lot when you dodge mortars every day)!

brettdan23
brettdan23

I walked into a spider web that was face level one morning, I instantly learned Kung Fu.

KellicTiger
KellicTiger

Dear North Korea,

Please nuke Sri Lanka.  Thanks.

TammyStorm
TammyStorm

Nothing like running into a spider web to turn you into a professional dancer.

WalterZiobro
WalterZiobro

Someone in Hollywood is probably writing the script right now for the first horror movie to star this creature.

DonBrock
DonBrock

I want to see one on someones face for perspective.

Derrick
Derrick

The photos attached to this article include several species of spider. I hope the reader knows which one is the one they are talking about.

SamuelAdams
SamuelAdams

OK, there is just NO REASON to have spiders this big.  None.  At least not within a 1,000 mile radius of where I am at any given time.

Rachael
Rachael

Why does it have ten legs?


PhilBooth
PhilBooth

 Spider as big as my face??!!!!  What does it eat?  Flies as big as my MIDDLE FINGER?

ninrec
ninrec

This article is childish, irresponsible, and full of absolute rubbish information. Poecilotheria is a very well documented group of spiders common in the pet trade and known for their extreme beauty. So this new type is larger. Cool. They ARE very fast tree dwellers that do NOT build a conventional web and do NOT dangle from anything. That means even if you do happen to be prancing around Sri Lanka your chances of encountering one of these animals is quite slim and the chances of it letting the loud, giant mammal that you are get anywhere near it are even slimmer. They just now discovered it for crying out loud and I doubt that happened when it jumped on someone's face. Because animals really like to jump right on a potential predator's mouth. Matt Peckham decides he's going to have an easy day at the office and do a nonsense story that plays on people's fears and completely disregards the animal, the hard work done every day by people fighting to actually educate about the natural world, and any standard of decent journalism. Cheers. Well done.

CatSh
CatSh

As someone who lives in the South, where we get all those golf ball-sized spiders that build webs big enough to catch a person each fall, I can certainly identify with the author's comments.

It's not about what the spider WILL do that haunts our dreams, it's what you imagine it COULD do.

I don't care if it is shy and never spins a single web. Just the thought of something that sized, with all those legs, falling out of a tree and landing on me is enough to give me nightmares.

MarkWorrell
MarkWorrell

Expect them to enter America and join the Republican party very, very soon.

Lillyskywalker
Lillyskywalker

I actually enjoyed the article.  Thought it a clever take.

UleNotknow
UleNotknow

"Some arachnids enjoy an arboreal life, dangling from silken threads to surprise unsuspecting trail-walkers. Now imagine one the size of a volleyball landing on you like one of the facehuggers from Alien."

Tarantula's don't spin webs.

noodlez
noodlez

who cares.  I thought the article was funny.  some of "you people" posting comments here need to go outside and socialize a little bit.  you're getting stale.

MartyYanes
MartyYanes

Not true at all. no way, no how.

Secutor
Secutor

This article is utterly idiotic! I own two of these, one of them a large female with a 7 inch legspan and she is one of the most docile among the taratulas I keep. While their bite is rather painful it won't be able to kill anyone and you would be highly unlikely to encounter one of these in the wild let alone have them drop on your face as the article suggests, because they tend to hide and flee if disturbed.

LeeAnnGerleman
LeeAnnGerleman

I have a friend living in S . Texas, who rides her horse through the woods all the time.  She says the 6' tall spider webs from the big spiders bothers her horse.  "Bothers your horse ?  what about the human on the horse?"  I told her that Iowa does not have spiders or webs like that .  She says she thought they were common all over the world.  "Um, no.  If I was a 6' spider web, or a 12" spider,  I'd sh** my drawers.  No way am I ever moving or travelling south."

Christiabella
Christiabella

I really want to be cool and say how cute it is, and how spiders are magnificent and misrepresented--but that is just terrifying.

AmericanMuse
AmericanMuse

That poor spider is in great danger of being picked up in a "white van" and then "disappeared." Sri Lanka is governed by a cabal of goons and murderers -- the Rajapaksa brothers!

ArxFerrum
ArxFerrum

I love sci-fi and the Alien series of films but... some people take it all to seriously. That spider is not a face-hugger but the author of this article may be. 

DancerWithHamsters
DancerWithHamsters

Awww, its so cute! Do they make good pets? Can you walk them on a leash? Can you schedule play dates between them with other owners at the spider park?