Saturday, December 11, 2010

Giant of a Spider - NH 099

NH 099
Giant Golden Orb Weaver
Category: Arachnids
Family: Nephilidae

Don't worry I haven't forgotten about Spider Saturday, but in celebration of the Sholesonian's 'Birthday' yesterday I'm giving you guys the spider of the Natural History Collection. This behemoth of a spider is over eight inches long and I have actually included a standard US quarter for scale. This particular guy comes from Jember, East Java, Indonesia so if you aren't particularly fond of large orb weaving spiders you might want to cancel next year's vacation plans to Indonesia. But really these Giant Golden Orb Weavers (Nephila maculata) are essentially completely harmless to humans. They do have some venom but it isn't deadly to humans.

Being the largest orb-weaving spider, these guys can spin webs that are up to 6 meters tall and two meters wide (for scale your refrigerator is about 2 meters tall). They generally eat large insects that may fall into their trap, but they themselves often fall prey to birds and natives. This specimen is clearly a female as indicated by its enormous size. The males of the species can be over a hundred times smaller and are sometimes eaten by their mate. Thus the male will have to sneak up on the female while she is eating in order to mate. Their webs are incredibly strong and have been used in fishing nets for centuries, the stuff is tougher than Kevlar.

So hopefully you enjoy this monstrous beast, and if you would like some more information on these giant spiders just check this link. Also if you are interested in getting one of these guys email the museum and I can direct you where you can get one without having to travel to Indonesia. Also, it may be interesting to note that the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has a spider pavilion which does have Nephila maculata among other large arachnids, where you can walk around check them out.

Also, I will work on taking a better photograph. There is some nice intricate golden designs on the body that you might not be able to see.

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