Scientist Piotr Naskrecki was taking a late night stroll through a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling from down below. Piotr reached for his flashlight only expecting to see a possum or rat.
When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Only to realize it wasn’t either of the small mammals he expected but a large, puppy-sized spider. The spider he was is known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), This specific type of arachnid is the world’s largest spider according to Guinness World Records. The spiders’ leg can reach up to a foot long, and the body the size of ‘a large fist,’ Naskrecki told in an interview with Live Science.
When Naskrecki engaged the imposing creature, it would rub its hind legs against its belly. Realizing the spider was sending out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them. When these hairs get in the eyes or other mucous membranes, they are “extremely painful and itchy,” and can stay there for days, he said.
Good news is these giant spiders don’t present a threat to humans, even if bit “a chicken can probably do more damage,” Naskrecki said.