A new species of spider has been discovered in Sri Lanka, and it's poisonous, lightning fast, and as big as a dinner plate.
Poecilotheria Rajaei is a newly discovered species of tarantula that has been found in Sri Lanka. It was first encountered by a villager back in 2009 when a dead specimen was found, but not until late last year has a live one been found.
The tarantula, which is named after Michael Rajakumar Purajah, the police officer who escorted scientists through Sri Lanka’s post civil war torn northern region in search of the spider, is massive. It can have a leg span of up to 8 inches, meaning the spider is about the size of a human face. Its size doesn’t make it a lumbering slow creature like many other tarantulas though; with lightning fast movement and potent venom, it’s a spider to watch out for.
The spider, which lives primarily in old trees (making it an aboreal spider) is rare, but if you encounter one, you’ll most likely spot it. Apart from its size, it draws attention with tiger stripes in bright colors such as yellow, pink and grey. Still, they are rare, and experts believe that one reason for the discovery happening now, is that deforestation of Sri Lanka is driving the spiders out of their natural habitats and into villages.
The spider belongs to the same family as the world’s largest spider in South America, the Goliath “bird-eating” tarantula. Though DNA tests have yet to confirm that the Poecilotheria Rajaei is in fact a new species, taxonomical research seems to indicate it most certainly is.