Through time, stories of gigantic spiders have captivated the imagination of humans, starting with Arachne, which is the half-woman half-spider in Greek mythology, to J’ba Fofi, the rumored monstrous-sized spider from the Congolese rainforest, and Shelob, the gigantic arachnid that keeps Frodo the hobbit on his toes throughout “The Lord of the Rings.”

However, are there real-life spiders who inspired these tales and myths? What is the most enormous spider that has ever lived?

Although none are as massive as the mythical beasts, the world is full of giant spiders. Take the vast huntsman spiders ( Heteropoda maxima). They are the most enormous spiders in the world regarding leg length. They measure 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) across the arachnids and are the same size as plates for dinner.

However, another spider species is so massive that it resembles a puppy’s size. “If we’re talking about the largest species of tarantula, that would be a species called Theraphosa blondi,” said Ray Hale, a wildlife lecturer, arachnologist, and vice-chairman of the British Tarantula Society. “That is, the goliath bird-eating spider.”

How large is it?

Most spiders can be divided into two broad categories; Hale told Live Science Araneomorphs (also called ‘true spiders,’ which comprise 90% of all spiders living on Earth) and mygalomorphs. Tarantulas are mygalomorphs. They’re an entity that is considered to be to be more primitive than genuine spiders. This means that they’ve changed less in the past than true spiders and therefore have maintained specific characteristics that real spiders have lost — like downward-pointing fangs and their vast dimensions.

The reason tarantulas have the most enormous spiders on Earth and include their West African Hercules baboon spiders (Hysterocrates Hercules), giant creatures whose legs extend to around 8 inches (20 centimeters) as well as face-size Poecilotheria Rajaei tarantulas, which can also grow to 8 inches in size and occur in Sri Lanka. The largest are Brazilian bird-eaters in salmon pink ( Lasiodora parahybana) with legs stretching up to 11 inches (28 centimeters).

However, none can beat the goliath bird-eaters in the dense rainforest of northwestern South America. These spiders have smaller legs than their huntsman kin, which stretch up to 11 inches. The weight of their bodies gives them an advantage.

At 6.17 grams ( 175 grams) and with bodies that measure 5.1 inches (13 centimeters) is double that of the salmon pink cousins, making them the most massive of spiders worldwide in terms of weight. An entomologist scouting the forests of Guyana discovered a goliath bird eater so huge that it rattled the undergrowth and was similar in size to a newborn puppy; however, it was slightly less cuddly, maybe.

What is it that it eats?

The name “goliath bird-eater” is somewhat of an omission. “Yes, it is a big spider. Does it eat birds? Not really,” Hale said. Hale. There are many theories as to how the name got its name. It may have been in response to a 19th-century illustration that depicted the arachnids consuming birds, and Hale claimed that the name was derived from the narratives of 16th-century explorations from South America who put two-and-two together after they found chicks who had fallen into the burrows lined with silk of the ground-nesting Tarantula.

However, Hale said that even though night-time hunters may attack vulnerable birds and the occasional rodent, most of their diet comprises lizards, crickets, and Frogs. They are near blind and rely on fragile bristles placed on the legs and their abdomen to detect slight vibrations that help them find their food sources. Their prey meets the sharp end of the tarantulas’ 1-inch-long (2.5 cm) fangs, which inject a lethal amount of neurotoxic venom, followed by digestive juices that liquefy prey’s tissues so that the spiders can slurp it up.

Goliath bird-eaters have their predators, including snakes, wasps, and even humans, who claim that the spiders possess delicious prawn flavor when cooked inside a banana leaf.

Are these spiders harmful to human beings?

Goliath bird-eaters tend to run away from humans instead of attacking. While there’s nothing pleasant about a little nip of their fangs that resemble needles -it’s been similar to the sensation of an isp’s bite; however, their venom isn’t powerful enough to cause harm. “You’re not going to die from it. They’re not dangerous,” Hale stated.

They do, however, have a secret weapon to ward off unwanted attention: By rubbing their hind legs against their abdomens, they release a flurry of hook-shaped bristles called ” urticating hairs” that, once airborne, can become lodged in the skin and eyes and cause enough irritation to drive a predator away. This only happens when the spiders have acted as warnings: tarantulas who are in danger are known to rub their front legs to create a loud hissing sound that alerts animals to stay away. The sound is known as ” stridulation,” it’s sufficient to be heard as far as fifteen meters (4.6 meters) away.

If you think that’s not enough, spiders live an extremely long duration. With their massive size, female goliath bird-eaters could endure as long as 25 years, Hale said. In addition to their other marvels, their incredibly lengthy lifespan may be one of the reasons why these massive creatures are worthy of our admiration and respect more than anxiety.


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