Giant Spider

Unknown arthropod invemeb rate of Central Africa and Australasia.

Physical description: Huge spider.

Distribution: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Papua New Guinea.

Significant sightings: R. K. Lloyd and his wife were motoring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1938 when they saw a large object crossing the trail in front of them. At first, they thought it was a cat or a monkey, but they soon realized it was a spider with legs nearly 3 feet long.

An Australian soldier, on patrol along the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in the fall of 1942, claims to have run across a spider the size of a puppy dog that had spun a 10- to 15-foot web.

Present status: The largest known living spider is the Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) of northern South America, a tarantula with a 13-inch legspan and a body length of 3.5 inches. Other big species are the Brazilian salmon tarantula (Lasiodora parahybana) and the Brazilian tawnyred (Grammostola mollicoma), both with legspans of 10 inches. The largest known fossil spider was Megarachne servinei, a 16-inch-long giant with a legspan greater than 20 inches that lived in San Luis Province, Argentina, 300 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period.

Sources: Karl Shuker, "From Dodos to Dimetrodons," Strange Magazine, no. 19 (Spring 1998): 22-23; Chad Arment, "CZ Conversations: Giant Spiders," North American BioFortean Review 3, no. 2 (October 2001): 28-29, http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/ NABR7.pdf.

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