Have you had any nightmares, lately? Would you like some? Then you'll love the South American Goliath birdeater. This furry spider is the size of a puppy, and thanks to hard claws on the tips of its foot-long legs, it makes a horrifying clicking sound when it scampers through the forest.
Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently spotted a Goliath birdeater in Guyana. He was actually hunting for katydids but instead he enjoyed the pleasure of meeting a puppy-sized spider.
At first, Naskrecki thought it was a possum. Then, like any good scientiest would do when spotting a rare species, he lunged at it. This was a mistake:
Every time I got too close to the birdeater it would do three things. First, the spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. "Oh, how cute!", I thought when I first saw this adorable behaviour, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days.
But wait, there's more:
If that wasn't enough, the arachnid would rear its front legs and open its enormous fangs, capable of puncturing a mouse's skull, and tried to jab me with the pointy implements.
Let's review. Curious scientist strolls through Amazonian rainforest encounters puppy-sized spider with claw-shaped hooves, repeatedly approaches beast only to be sprayed in the eyeballs with "a cloud of urticating hair" and then the fangs came out.
Enjoy the nightmares — and never go wandering through the rainforest at night.
Pictures: Piotr Naskrecki