Giant tarantula as big as human face discovered in Sri Lanka

Scientists have discovered a new species of tiger spider living in northern Sri Lanka.

Scientists have found a new species of tarantula as large as the average human face.

Ranil Nanayakkara and his colleagues discovered Poecilotheria rajaei, a new species of tiger spider, in northern Sri Lanka. It was first noticed in 2009, when villagers brought a spider they had killed to researchers.

Giant new tarantula species discovered

Giant new tarantula species discovered
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"Days of extensive searching in every tree hole and bark peel were rewarded with a female and to our satisfaction several juveniles too," Nanayakkara and his colleagues said in a study about the spiders published in the British Tarantula Society Journal.

P. rajaei was named after a police inspector, Puraja, who helped the researchers locate the spider.

New tiger spider found: P. rajaei is about the size of a human face. IMAGEBritish Tarantula Society Journal study

While examining the spider, the researchers noticed it didn't look quite like any of the other tiger spiders known to live in Sri Lanka because of its markings and "other significant differences." After further study, they were able to establish it as a new species.

Tiger spiders typically live in tree hollows, under rocks and, during monsoon season, in human dwellings that are close to forests. The Poecilotheria species exists only in India and Sri Lanka and is known for its colorful markings and remarkable speed – as well as its size.

Tiger spiders are large enough to eat birds, small snakes and mice and catch them using speed and potent venom, rather than webs.

Several species of Poecilotheria are endangered due to loss of habitat.

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