A new species of tarantula named Poecilotheria rajaei, roughly the size of a dinner plate has been discovered in a Sri Lankan village. Image © Ranil Nanayakkara / British Tarantula Society
The spider has a leg span of up to 20 centimetres (8 in), has vivid yellow and gray piping on the first and fourth legs with a pink abdominal band, and enough venom to kill lizards, mice, birds and snakes.
Peter Kirk, editor of the British Tarantula Society journal, said:
“It can be quite attractive, unless spiders freak you out. I absolutely would love to see DNA sampling done on all the species of Poecilotheria”
The new spider prefers to live in old-growth trees, but is considered rare due to deforestation in its war-torn habitat and has taken to living in old buildings. The venom of P. rajaei is not lethal to humans but can kill small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes. It is not yet known exactly how rare the newly discovered tarantula is, but there is some concern that habitat destruction is causing their number to dwindle.