The puppy-sized goliath spider, also known as Theraphosa blondi or the South American goliath birdeater, is not your everyday spider at home or in the wild. Its leg span can grow to a foot or 30 centimeters, or about the size of a child’s forearm, and its body can be as big as an adult’s large fist. It can also weigh over 170 grams which is about as much as a young puppy, and is the world’s largest spider according to the Guiness World Records.

This is the monster that Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist from the Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology found creeping underfoot at night in Guyana. According to the baffled entomologist who had found the giant spider when its ruffling underfoot sound caught his attention, “When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing.” The puppy-sized goliath spider attempted attacking Naskrecki by rubbing its hind legs against its abdomen – an action which actually sends out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs that cause extreme pains and itches when they land in the eyes or on other mucous membranes.

The goliath’s spider’s bite cannot really kill a man, but is venomous enough to inflict pains “like driving a nail through your hand.” It’s large and terrible fangs can also inflict deep wounds, and it is large enough a spider to rightfully eat birds. It also eats frogs, insects, earthworms, small animals, and largely hunts at nights. And though the puppy-sized goliath spider is now kept at a museum, Naskrecki admits that “I’ve been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times.”

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