Are you afraid of spiders? It’s better that you don’t see this, here you will find the largest in the world
Modern spiders, which belong to the order Araneae, have been around since the Carboniferous Period, with the oldest known fossils dating back to around 310 million years ago. These fossils indicate that prehistoric spiders were not significantly larger than the largest species we know today.
However, for a time the fossil record showed that large arachnids existed. For example, Megarachne servinei was initially mistakenly interpreted as a giant spider with a 34 cm long body based on a fossil found in Argentina. It was later determined that it was most likely a eurypterid, a type of aquatic arachnid also known as a sea scorpion. Although eurypterids are not spiders, some of them reached considerable sizes, with the largest known genus, Jaekelopterus, reaching more than 2 meters in length at its peak in the Devonian around 400 million years ago.
The Goliath tarantula, Brazil and Venezuela
Firstly, we have the Goliath tarantula, which many consider to be the largest spider in the world (Theraphosa blondi). This member of the tarantula family is the largest arachnid by length and body mass, but is surpassed in wingspan by the second largest spider. It is called a bird eater.
The Goliath tarantula lives in northern South America and, contrary to what its name suggests, does not spend all of its time eating birds. Instead, these nocturnal giants emerge from their burrows at night and feed on invertebrates, eggs or even small rodents and occasionally small birds.
The Goliath tarantula can reach a body diameter of around 12 centimeters and a leg span of 28 centimeters. The lifespan of these arachnids varies depending on gender: females can live up to 20 years in the wild jungles of northern Brazil, Venezuela and beyond, and males often die after mating and have a life expectancy of between 3 and 6 years.
These hairy brown and black tarantulas have fangs and venom, and although it would be unpleasant to be bitten by one of them, the venom is not fatal to humans. Goliath tarantulas can also produce sounds by rubbing the bristles on their front legs – a process called stridulation. It is said that the noise of these tarantulas can be heard from more than four meters away.
In some parts of South America the tarantula is considered a delicacy; The hair is carefully singed and the spider is roasted in banana leaves before consumption. A study on the nutritional potential of the bird-eating spider found that it can provide about 109 kcal per 100 grams.
Giant huntsman spider, Laos
The only spider that exceeds the Goliath in size is the giant hunter spider (Heteropoda maxima), which has a wingspan of 30 centimeters. Like the Goliath, this spider does not build webs but hunts its prey. This spider was first discovered in a cave in Laos in 2001, making it much more elusive than its South American counterpart. These hunters are often confused with tarantulas, although they are spiders from a different family called Sparassidae.
Not only do these spiders have the largest leg span of any species, but they can also run very, very fast. They are able to move almost a meter per second while hunting their prey. They have a much flatter body than the Goliath, making it easier for them to hide in tree bark and crevices.
Like the goliath, the huntsman spider has a venom that fortunately is not fatal to humans and instead feeds on insects, small lizards and frogs.
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