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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