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April 05, 2013

Super Spider Discovered in Sri Lanka

by VOA News

Arachnophobes beware! Your worst nightmare has been discovered in the form of a venomous and quick-moving tarantula the size of your face that lives in the forests of northern Sri Lanka.

The colorful creature boasts a leg span of up to 20 centimeters across and belongs to the genus Poecilotheria, according to Wired magazine. Spiders in this genus are known as tiger spiders because of their ornate markings.

About 15 species of tarantulas have been classified in the genus.

The new spider has been given the name Poecilotheria rajaei and differs from other spiders in the category mostly because of leg markings and a pink band on its abdomen.

The British Tarantula Society published a study on the spider in December, and the editor of the society’s journal told Wired that “this species has enough significant differences to separate it from the other species,” but added that even though there appear to be physical differences from other tarantulas in the genus, a DNA sampling would need to be done to confirm a new species.

Many of the tree-dwelling tarantulas in Poecilotheria are endangered due to loss of habitat.

"They are quite rare," Ranil Nanayakkara, co-founder of the Sri Lankan organization Biodiversity Education and Research, told Wired. "They prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation, the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings."

Poecilotheria rajaei, while large, would not be the world’s largest spider. That title belongs to the South American tarantula known as the Goliath bird-eater.