So if you needed another reason not to go to Sri Lanka, aside from ignorance of its geographic location and the fact it’s Sri Lanka, do I have a news article for you:
Also, apparently, “the size of a human face” is now a standard unit of measurement when it comes to spiders. Whose face? I don’t know – presumably the guy running around shouting, “Help! There’s a tarantula on my face!”
Am I the only one who is neither excited nor titillated by the knowledge that we, as a species, have identified and cataloged a larger, scarier spider than we have ever cataloged before? Call me short-sighted, but upon getting the phone call from some university or another going, “I hear they found a huge, creepy-ass spider out in Sri Lanka,” I fail to understand what motivates someone to go, “Gotta get me some of that!” Thanks to this article, I spend my every waking moment terrified I will, spontaneously and accidentally, bi-locate to somewhere in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, I have, and will continue to consider, doing something drastic enough to get on the government’s no-fly list just so I don’t find myself on a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago that diverts to Sri Lanka. Yes, I understand the odds of these things are slim. But that spider is real, and the odds cannot be slim enough.
Returning to the discussion of the spider, the article in question reads like the cliff notes for Arachnophobia.
If I might quote:
“The arachnid had originally been presented to [Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research organization] three years ago by villagers in Mankulam, who had killed a male specimen.”
At the request of the man in paragraph two, I would presume.
“Scientists immediately realised the dead spider was not like anything they already knew, and a group was charged with finding any living relatives.”
Presumably, the group doing the charging was their wives, and I’d hope the articulated mission was to ensure the living relatives in question were not living for long.
“It has been named Poecilotheria rajaei, in recognition of a senior police officer called Michael Rajakumar Purajah, who guided the research team through a hazardous jungle overrun by civil unrest in order to seek out the spider.”
Also, Poecilotheria rajaei just happens to be Sri Lankan for “Help – there’s a tarantula on my face.”
And if a spider the size of your face wasn’t enough to get you writing your congressman and demanding a tactical nuclear strike on Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte1, dig this. Apparently, when pressed to provide a little more detail on the arachnid in question, their three adjectives of choice were “colourful, fast, and venomous.” This inadvertently answers the questions of (1) how the spider ends up on your face and (2) what it does when it gets there.
It also raises questions as to what precisely happened to the previous village doctor, on which the article is silent – disturbingly so:
“They [the big @$$ spiders] prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation, the number have dwindled, and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings. […] The living Poecilotheria rajaei were eventually discovered in the former doctor’s quarters of the village’s hospital.”
Presumably the former doctor was not. Before leaving on his flight to anyplace that was not Sri Lanka, my bet is that he was last heard telling the new village doctor, “Whatever you do, do not go in there. There’s a spider the size of your face.”
1The capital of Sri Lanka, you geographic ignoramus.2
2Totally didn’t just look that up on Wikipedia.3
3Totally lying about not looking that up on Wikipedia.