Face-Sized Tarantula, Poecilotheria Rajaei, Discovered In Sri Lanka [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

on April 04 2013 1:39 PM

A new kind of spider has been discovered -- and it’s the size of your face.

The tarantulas live in northern Sri Lanka and are distinguished by unique yellow markings and a leg span of eight inches, Wired reports. They're also fast and venomous.

The first sighting of the giant species was in 2009 when a local villager found a dead spider and gave it to scientists from Sri Lanka's Biodiversity Education and Research (BER) organization. But it wasn't until members scoured the northern Sri Lankan jungle and found more of the giant tarantulas that they were able to create a detailed description of the new arachnid.

tarantula A new face-sized tarantula was discovered in Sri Lanka.  British Tarantula Society/Ranil Nanayakkara

 

face-sized tarantula  British Tarantula Society/ Ranil Nanayakkara

 

face-sized tarantula  British Tarantula Society/ Ranil Nanayakkara

 

Named Poecilotheria rajaei after a police officer who helped the scientists navigate the jungle, the species is related to the world’s largest spider, appropriately called "the Goliath bird-eater," which hails from South America.

"It demonstrates that wildlife continues to survive whilst we are in the throes of conflict and that they can adapt to a  changing environment,” Peter Kirk, editor of the British Tarantula Society's journal told Sky News, referring to the discovery in a region recovering from a 25-year civil war.

But not everyone is ready to accept the new tarantula.

Arachnologist Robert Raven, curator at the Queensland Museum in Australia, says there’s not enough known about the species to make the discovery official, he told Wired.

"The genus Poecilotheria has not been taxonomically revised," he said, referring to the method of classifying organisms. "Popping new species out in that situation is always going to be fraught with doubt and difficulty."

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