One of the largest harvestmen ever found has been discovered in a Laotian cave.
I hate spiders. I hate things that look like spiders. And I especially hate spiders and spider-like things with spindly legs. Consequently, I was appalled to hear that a massive spider-like thing had been found in a Laotian cave.
The discovery was made by Dr. Peter Jäger from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt who was in Laos to film a TV production. “In between takes I collected spiders from the caves in the southern province of Khammouan,” he says. Why? Why would anybody willingly enter a spider-infested cave? Anyway …
In one of the caves he apparently found a gigantic spider-like critter with a leg span of more than 33cm. That’s right, 33cm. Or a foot and a bit. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
The spider-thing isn’t, however, actually a spider: it’s a harvestman, also known as a daddy longlegs (not that that makes it any less creepy). It’s also one of the biggest ever found – the current record belongs to a 34cm specimen discovered in South America.
Why so big? Nobody knows, but Peter “Spiderman” Jäger speculates that it could be because the critters grow slower – and therefore bigger – in caves.
There is, however, some good news here. It seems that the daddies growth is limited – possibly due to a lack of oxygen – and so they can’t simply keep on growing and growing. That’s the theory, anyway – let’s hope it’s right.
This spider-thing is not the only gross critter to have been discovered in this region of Laos. They’ve also found huntsman spiders with 30cm leg spans, whip scorpions with 26cm spans and predatory centipedes with 40cm spans.
The moral of the story: never, ever, ever take a trip to Laos. And if you absolutely have to go there, keep away from the caves.
[Source: Senckenberg Research Institute]