Giant Harvestman Spider Discovered in Laos

October 22, 2012 / Laos, Asia
The Unnamed Giant Harvestman Spider

Photo via Senckenberg

One of the world’s largest harvestman spider has been discovered in a cave during a research trip to Laos.

Measuring in at more than 33 centimeters (13 inches) long, the spider falls just shy of the current record of just over 34 centimeters (13.4 inches), set by a species in South America.

Although it was immediately recognized for its size, the discovery that it was a new species was only realized when later trying to sort and categorize the creature.

A visiting specialist from the National Institute for Research of the Amazon (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil, could only conclude that it is probably the genus Gagrella in the Sclerosomatidae family.

Many large arthropods with similar huge dimensions have been discovered closely linked to caves in the karst areas of Laos.

The Laotian huntsman spider Heteropoda maxima is known for a leg span of up to 30 centimeters (12 inches), while the whip scorpion Typopeltis magnificus is up to 26 centimeters (10 inches) long and Thereuopoda longicornis, a predatory centipede is almost 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) long.

Although no one is sure what causes this high frequency of gigantism, it is believed by some that a potentially slower rate of growth in the caves could have something to do with it.

Giant Harvestman Yet to be Named [Senckenberg]

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