First, Boko Haram.
Then, earthquakes in Oklahoma, Russia in the Ukraine, and then ISIS, followed by an Ebola chaser.
It seems that what may be next is spiders the size of chihuahuas. These adorable critters, are known by the nifty little name, the South American Goliath Birdeater. The Goliath Birdeater has a leg span of almost a foot, weighs in a half a pound, spits barbs into assailant’s eyes and has two-inch fangs capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull.
All in all, the South American Goliath Birdeater sounds like a good candidate for the role of horror movie villain and small child’s nightmare. In fact, it’s good entertainment all around so long as it stays in the Guyana jungle where it was recently spotted by entomologist Piotr Nastrecki.
Since entomologists study bugs, or as Mr Naskrecki calls them, “land arthropods,” he probably had a high old time with his find. At least he did until he got hit in the eye with a “urticating” hair ball that the spider launched at him. Urticating means hair that bristles with stinging barbs.
Mr Naskrecki said that after this hairball “hit my eyeballs” he itched and cried for several days.
Although the Goliath Birdeater’s venom is not poisonous to humans, getting bit by those fangs would be “like driving a nail through your hand.”
The South American Goliath birdeater is the spider of many people’s nightmares, but encountering one of the puppy-sized critters in a dark rain forest in Guyana was a dream come true for entomologist Piotr Naskrecki.
The largest spider in the world, the birdeater has a leg span of about 30cm, weighs up to 170g, and hardened tips and claws on its feet that make a clicking sound when it walks.
Naskrecki was looking for katydids the night he encountered a Goliath. He had turned his headlamp off to concentrate on listening when he heard the sound of an animal running in complete darkness.
“I could clearly hear its hard feet hitting the ground and dry leaves crumbling under its weight. I pressed the switch and pointed the light at the source of the sound, expecting to see a small mammal, a possum, a rat maybe,” Naskrecki recounted in his blog The Smaller Majority.
“And at first this is what I thought I saw – a big, hairy animal, the size of a rodent.”
But something was not right, so within a second the entomologist was lunging at the spider, “ecstatic about finally seeing one of these wonderful, almost mythical creatures in person”.
“Goliath birdeaters are ridiculously huge for a land arthropod,” Naskrecki said.