Smithsonianreports that Poecilotheria rajaei, a new species of Tiger Spider, has been found in Sri Lanka. The large spider has a leg span of eight inches. It is also poisonous and very fast. The discovery was reported in the British Tarantula Society journal. You can read the article here.
"It can be quite attractive, unless spiders freak you out," British Tarantula Society journal editor Peter Kirk said.
Nanayakkara, a co-author of the study, named the new spider "Poecilotheria rajaei" in honor of a police officer who helped the research team wade through war-torn northern Sri Lanka.
"The first specimen of this new species, which was brought to the attention of the authors, was a dead specimen of a male which had been killed by local villagers," the study reads. "Upon close inspection it was noticed that it did not conform to the descriptions of any of the species of Poecilotheria so far described from the island."
The Pokies are only found in India and Sri Lanka. They are colorful spiders, but not the largest — some tarantulas can be 12 inches in diameter.
Scientists first encountered the new tarantula in 2009, when villagers in northern Sri Lanka gave them the corpse of one that they had killed. From there, the scientists went on a quest to find more, routing around in tree holes and bark peel with a foot-wide hand net. (Some scientists are tough as nails.) We’re not advocating for any harm to come to these little (gigantic) spiders, but we can certainly all admit that some creatures are just a little more nightmare-inducing than others. The new spider was just described in the British Tarantula Society Journal. Wired:
Covered in beautiful, ornate markings, the spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, known as “Pokies” for short. These are the tiger spiders, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colourful, fast, and venomous.