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Arachnophobes may wanna skip this one....
January 12, 2010 10:07 AM   Subscribe

A new and previously unknown species of spider, Cerbalus Aravensis, (photo) has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar (map) in Israel's southern Arava region along the Israel-Jordan border by a team of scientists from the University of Haifa-Oranim. Cerbalus is the largest arachnid of its type in the Middle East, with a leg-span that can reach up to 5.5" (14 cm). Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries.

Spiders: Previously on Metafilter.

Related: The Spider Awards: Wired.com’s Arachnid Hall of Fame(from Nov '09)
posted by zarq (81 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
with a leg-span that can reach up to 5.5"

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


OK, I fought my instincts and clicked on the photo, and it's really pretty! Pretty spider! Don't bite me, pretty spider.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


ACK
posted by slater at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


*runs away screaming*
posted by kmz at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries.

And this is a problem how? That thing is terrifying.
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeah, I hate to be all haterish but wake me when they're extinct. thx.
posted by supermedusa at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2010


thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries.

&@#%$ Typo! That should be "thanks to rezoning"
posted by zarq at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2010


At first I read that as 5.5 feet. Seems like no big deal now.
posted by endquote at 10:18 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive Cerbalus aravensis, ... GROWS TO 100 FEET TALL AND SHOOTS HELLFIRE FROM HIS EYES. ALL WILL KNEEL BEFORE SPIDER-KING!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why can't metafilter do spider posts? I like this post and I LIKE spiders. From the little guys in the corner eating moths to the 2" wolf spider living under my couch. He likes to eat crickets. Cute little guy.
posted by leetheflea at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


I... kind of want it as a pet. This is the sort of failed survival instinct that probably ought to have gotten all my ancestors killed, yet somehow didn't.

(Yay spiders!)
posted by dorque at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing to keep in mind is that spiders are made of other bugs. We would be screwed without them. The total weight of insects eaten by spiders each year is more than that of the human population of the world.
posted by mullingitover at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


I like the photos, but when you're talking about a big bugs you really need a reference to show like scale like a pencil, or the spider eating a human being or something.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 10:23 AM on January 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


Incredibly, to protect its endangered habitat, the Israeli spider is confining Palestinian spiders to a narrow strip of earth and limiting their access to resources.

[ducks...]
posted by Joe Beese at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Faisil: They call him the Sand Spider.
Spencer Trilby: Why?
Faisil: Probably because it sounds scary.
posted by total warfare frown at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing to keep in mind is that spiders are made of other bugs. We would be screwed without them. The total weight of insects eaten by spiders each year is more than that of the human population of the world.

This is one of those things that I know in my rational mind. And since I'm just about as bugphobic as I am arachnophobic, you'd think it would be a persuasive argument. But phobias transcend rationality.
posted by kmz at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2010


Oh Joe what have ye wrought.
posted by aerotive at 10:27 AM on January 12, 2010


Why can't metafilter do spider posts? I like this post and I LIKE spiders. From the little guys in the corner eating moths to the 2" wolf spider living under my couch. He likes to eat crickets. Cute little guy.

I agree. I joke about being scared of them and all, but as long as they're not on me, I like them quite a bit. They're cute in a sort of horrific way (like Cthulhu only hard and exoskeleton-y instead of slimy and tendril-y), they're really interesting, and they like to eat the things that are much worse.

But if I feel something on me, tickling the little hairs on my arm, perhaps, and look down to see a spider there, I shriek like a toddler.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:27 AM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries.

Look, I can't be the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to build farmhouses in the natural habitat of a 5.5 inch diameter spider, right?
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:28 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


But if I feel something on me, tickling the little hairs on my arm, perhaps, and look down to see a spider there, I shriek like a toddler.

I nearly put "GETITOFFME!!!!" as a tag....
posted by zarq at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Look, I can't be the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to build farmhouses in the natural habitat of a 5.5 inch diameter spider, right?

A self-correcting problem if I ever heard one.
posted by zarq at 10:31 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Look, I can't be the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to build farmhouses in the natural habitat of a 5.5 inch diameter spider, right?

A SyFy Channel Original Movie waiting to be made.
posted by kmz at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's the sort of troll I'd expect on fark.com, Joe Beese. Way to elevate the discussion! :-)

Mullingitover, I was gonna demand a citation because that is the coolest thing I'm likely to hear all day, then I noticed the period at the end of your post. Thanks!
posted by yiftach at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2010


Eh, 5.5 inches or 5.5 mm, they crush about the same underfoot. If it makes you feel better, carry a handgun to kill them from afar.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 AM on January 12, 2010


yiftach: "Mullingitover, I was gonna demand a citation because that is the coolest thing I'm likely to hear all day, then I noticed the period at the end of your post. Thanks!"

The coolest thing I learned all day was that the British call invertebrates 'minibeasts.'
posted by mullingitover at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Studies have shown that you're never more than ten feet away from a spider

THERE IS NOWHERE TO RUN
posted by Ratio at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fortunately Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered...
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2010


Spiders are rad and you are all rad for liking them.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what I like? I like pictures of spiders. Spiders in person, not so much.
posted by Splunge at 10:40 AM on January 12, 2010


Once a spider gets so big that it appears to have fur it stops being creepy and becomes adorable.

Wookit da widdle spider! Who's a kee-yoot spider? You are! Yes you are!
posted by bondcliff at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2010


OM NOM NOM
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, sure, you all pretend to be scared of them, but if you were to make this thing two feet across and have it live in the ocean, you'd be slobbering it with butter and eating it and calling it a crab.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


The thing to keep in mind is that spiders are made of other bugs.

I'll keep that in mind if I'm ever tempted to eat one (I don't eat bugs).
posted by The World Famous at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2010


I ♥ spiders. This one is pretty, too.
posted by brundlefly at 10:46 AM on January 12, 2010


TRAVEL ADVISORY - INSECT TRAGEDY ON TANGO URILLA

Disregarding Federal warnings, Mormon extremists established Port Joe Smith, a settlement of 300 on Tango Urilla, a system just inside the Arachnid Quarantine Zone.

Too late they realized tha Tango Urilla had already been chosen by other colonists -- Arachnids !

The council asks future colonists to obey all official Federal warnings.

Would you like to know more ?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll keep that in mind if I'm ever tempted to eat one (I don't eat bugs).

But you eat spiders?
posted by JaredSeth at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2010


But you eat spiders?

Not anymore.
posted by The World Famous at 10:54 AM on January 12, 2010


Actually a great many spiders are made out of other spiders. It's spiders all the way down.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2010


What a beautiful spider!

By all rights, I should have the shrieking horrors about spiders. Years ago I was house-sitting for some friends (in a big city, mind you) when I was, um, charged by a very large (3-4 inches across) spider. I was in bed and the spider ran across the pillow, coming right at me. Did I scream like a small child? You bet your ass. Did I encourage the cat to eat the spider? Yes I did (the cat refused). Did I toxify the bedroom by spraying a lot of bug spray on the spider until it died? Yes, yes I did.

And I'm sorry, now, that I did that, and am grateful that I didn't develop arachnophobia as a result of that incident.

This was the same house-sitting gig where, a few nights after the Spider Incident, I woke up with a rat on my chest. Still like rats, though.
posted by rtha at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


This was the same house-sitting gig where, a few nights after the Spider Incident, I woke up with a rat on my chest. Still like rats, though.

You swallowed the rat to catch the spider.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Un Fortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries.

FTFY

I have this *thing* about spiders. It's on my back. You know where to look for the photos.
posted by pjern at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh come on. The thing is even named cerb-something something. Just adds proof to my deeply held belief that all spiders secretly desire is to crawl into your head and eat your brain while wiggling.... aggghhhh!!!!

And don't try to confuse me with any of your talk about how they are useful and not harmful. You people are already being controlled by your brain spiders. I'm warning you. KEEP BACK!
posted by Babblesort at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Arachnids are awesome. Without them... this would be a very, very different world. Humanity would be even more at the mercy of insects than it already is. Imagine if disease carrying insects didn't have this vital class of predator to keep them in check...

Malaria Central.

No, sir, I don't like it.

So, praise the humble arachnid and what it does for us. This one is even kinda cute. I'd have one for a pet... if they weren't endangered and all.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2010


Studies have shown that you're never more than ten feet away from a spider

That can't be, that's inside the room!
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


This was the same house-sitting gig where, a few nights after the Spider Incident, I woke up with a rat on my chest. Still like rats, though.

That would have been the deal-breaker for me. I find rats terrifying.

Willard. *shudder*
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2010


A sand quarry? Perhaps it's to sell to the goys.
posted by edgeways at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2010


I shared an apartment in Luxembourg with a spider the size of my fist for about 6 months. For some reason she just hung out in the bathroom and watched us. After a while you get used to their many faceted eyes watching your every move... waiting... always waiting...
posted by blue_beetle at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2010


You swallowed the rat to catch the spider.

I wish. Well, not really. But I did run out of the flat at five in the morning. (And returned later, talked to the concierge, who assured me that oh no, this building does not have rats! Never! Have you met the nice people upstairs? Their daughter - such a charming girl! She's away at school presently - has a delightful pet rat. He is so clean and friendly! Turns out? That pet rat had escaped, gotten into the flat I was staying in, and tried to wake me up the way he woke his owner: by sitting on my chest and touching my nose with his. He found his way home, and the daughter's parents were much relieved to discover him waiting outside their apartment door. They let me in, and showed me his cage, where he was happily eating some grapes or something, and I pointed at him and said Yes, that's him!)

(And then of course, I worried that I had killed someone's escaped pet spider. But I wasn't going to ask the concierge about that.)

(The cat who refused to eat the spider also showed no interest in the rat. Go figure.)
posted by rtha at 11:17 AM on January 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


An incredibly beautiful creature, and yet also one from which I would run shrieking if it were within any proximity of my person.
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, that photo looks harmless enough until you notice that the thing near its hindmost left leg is a dessicated human skull...

Man, I love spiders, and I can't understand the hate - I mean, they are designed like nature's most badass animal ever!
Armored! Eight legs, for that extra advantage over puny six-legged insects! Poison fangs! Can create their own incredibly strong ropes to set traps, hunt their prey with or store their kills for later! Can be incredibly fast, run up walls and across ceilings! Some even pounce on their prey! Some build underwater air bubbles to escape from predators on land! Thousands of eyes, often grouped to eight structures, allowing for almost 360° view! Sensitive feet that can detect bugs and beetles walking nearby and hairs that can feel the air currents created by flying insects!

I mean, if we had no spiders on earth they'd be a concept much too ridiculous for any sci-fi movie. Love 'em, and it is sad to find a new species only to see it's already endangered.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:35 AM on January 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Don't worry, you won't see it until you're right over it. It's an underground spider, making its home in underground dens sealed off by camouflaged doors.
Its home, the Sands of Samar, are the last remaining sand dunes in the southern Arava region. Rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries have reduced the 2.7 square miles of dunes to about 1 square mile.
And they can't leave the whole 2.7 acre area alone?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on January 12, 2010


Studies have shown that you're never more than ten feet away from a spider
That can't be, that's inside the room!


It's a bug hunt! Game over, man!!
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:42 AM on January 12, 2010


Studies have shown that you're never more than ten feet away from a spider
That can't be, that's inside the room!

It's a bug hunt! Game over, man!!


Shall we skip straight to the nuking of the site from orbit or are there some steps we should be taking in the interim?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You laugh, but that thing does not look dissimilar to a face-hugger.
posted by JHarris at 11:52 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beautifully cool.
posted by fook at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2010


squee!
posted by scruss at 12:22 PM on January 12, 2010


I like this post and I LIKE spiders.

Well, that's all well and good, but ... BEHIND YOU!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:31 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can be incredibly fast, run up walls and across ceilings! Some even pounce on their prey! [...] Thousands of eyes, often grouped to eight structures, allowing for almost 360° view!

....get. it. away.

Seriously. If motherfucking Cthulhu manifested and banished the huge hairy spiders, I would feel nothing but gratitude and relief (for a microsecond, as my sanity drained away.)

Once a spider gets so big that it appears to have fur it stops being creepy and becomes adorable.

Until its hairs become permanently lodged in your cornea and make your eyes bleed.

(That link has a picture of a tarantula that I had to cover up with my hand on the monitor while I copy-pasted the link. Fuck spiders. Fuck them)
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Spiders: the only creatures with fur that you never, ever want to pet.
posted by tommasz at 12:44 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until its hairs become permanently lodged in your cornea and make your eyes bleed.

Just remember, when the leg falls off, they're obviously ill. Sorry, I couldn't resist. It still cracks me up.
posted by zarq at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until its hairs become permanently lodged in your cornea and make your eyes bleed.

KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT A THOUSAND TIMES WITH PURE CLEANSING FIRE
posted by Ratio at 12:58 PM on January 12, 2010


<3 Spiders! Thanks for the post.

Speaking of large spiders (with hairs), around 1990 my oldest daughter's first pet was a tarantula named "Bleh" and was my daughter's potty training partner. This is what happens when your mom's a goth.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2010


What I'd like to know is how a spider that big living in one of the world's longest-inhabited placed stayed undiscovered by people for so long. What else is out there?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Not a crab, not yet an Arthropod"... but we may want to upgrade your Arachnophobia to an all out Arthrophobia.
Beauty! It is natural to both love and fear spiders and crabs... but the lines are so blurry... what's what?

These are crabs... some of which look like spiders. These are Crab-spiders and then there are spider-crabs and the "largest" extant arthropod seems to be a Spider-Crab... which is a face-hugger/nightmare-maker/gentle-giant depending on viewpoint.
..The evolutionary pathway really isn't confusing, or unknown, but nature sure is diverse and amazing to think about, thank you!
posted by infinite intimation at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


OH SHIT TO THE SAFE-ROOM.

Okay, I have a bone to pick with all the "I don't get the hate" people. Yes, I acknowledge that spiders are a net good for the planet, what with all the bug-eating and whatnot. But phobias are not rational. I fucking HATE spiders. I have ever since I was young. My friends would think it hilarious to tease me with them. I don't care if they eat every bug in the world and excrete gold nuggets. I can't stand them, and they creep me out like nothing else on this godforsaken planet.

It does no good whatsoever to point out how awesome and necessary spiders are. I agree with you, in theory. But I can't abide them in my presence, and lecturing me about the good they do won't keep my lizard hind-brain from gibbering in existential terror.

TOO MANY LEGS.
posted by Salieri at 1:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Too many legs?
NO SUCH THING.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:12 PM on January 12, 2010


Oh come on, it's adorable. Just picture that cute little guy sitting on your shoulder, snuggled up next to your neck. Its front legs gently tickling your ear.

Now imagine that it invited a couple of dozen of its friends to meet you...
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for trying, Metafilter, but reading this thread is as much immersion therapy as I can handle. Maybe tomorrow I'll work up the courage to click the links.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 2:45 PM on January 12, 2010


I shared an apartment in Luxembourg with a spider the size of my fist for about 6 months. For some reason she just hung out in the bathroom and watched us. After a while you get used to their many faceted eyes watching your every move... waiting... always waiting...

I like spiders and live with some, but that thing would have to be moved for me to live there.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:47 PM on January 12, 2010


with a leg-span that can reach up to 5.5"

With long hairy legs reaching up to 5.5 inches (14 cm) in length

Like..wait...that's a single leg?? Not like wing-span? But, you mean....ONE? LEG???
posted by Juicy Avenger at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


TOO MANY LEGS

Two legs good.
Four legs actually mostly not bad either.
Six legs moving more into sort of the bad spectrum but occasionally okay.
Eight legs bad with a few tasty exceptions.
posted by otolith at 3:13 PM on January 12, 2010


You know the drill.
posted by nudar at 3:35 PM on January 12, 2010


What a beautiful spider. Spiders are not scary or creepy. They're amazing. Stop being scared of the spiders, people. Don't squish them.

And no, Juicy Avenger, a leg-span is measured from the end of one leg to the end of another leg across the body. Kind of like a spider diameter. I think.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:47 PM on January 12, 2010


Although I guess one of the articles says that the legs are as long as 5.5 inches, so I guess you're right. That's a big freakin' spider.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:48 PM on January 12, 2010


It's hard to really gauge the size of the spider without a picture of it next to a human hand, or perhaps a human head. Why aren't there any pictures like that?

Also, isn't it possible for spiders to be both beautiful and frightening? Both amazing and scary? Both terrifying and terrific?
posted by jabberjaw at 5:00 PM on January 12, 2010


jabberjaw: "It's hard to really gauge the size of the spider without a picture of it next to a human hand, or perhaps a human head. Why aren't there any pictures like that?"

Err... are you volunteering?
posted by brundlefly at 5:03 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


rtha's cute rat nose-touching story has turned this thread into a net-neutral for me, by the way. Thank you for sharing. In my world, infant-sized spiders are canceled out by eskimo-kissing rats.

Though they might still win in the cage fight.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 7:32 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Fuck you quin. I made the mistake of coming back to this thread and I'm rewarded with this evil arachno-gendanken. I'm can't even click on the picture. I do not need this. aaaghh!!!

I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
posted by Babblesort at 7:37 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


flt: And they can't leave the whole 2.7 acre area alone?

Well, it's for a sand quarry. Sand's a pretty rare commodity in the desert.
posted by swell at 9:03 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every morning, he's the first thing I notice. I watch him keeping watch from under the bathroom cabinet. He has to courage to stare back in spite of his fragile legs. In fact, I miss him when he disappears for a few days.

I have seen him pounce on a scurrying ant, deliver death, and spider-man up to his tiny web. He is patience and then opportunity seized. The confident killer.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:26 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a beautiful spider. Spiders are not scary or creepy. They're amazing.

I think where we differ is in the perception that this is an either/or thing. Spiders can be creepy as all get out and amazing. Amazingly creepy.

Stop being scared of the spiders, people. Don't squish them.

I do tend to freak out at spiders, but in the process I try not to kill them provided there is an alternative. The way freak-outs are, I don't always succeed. I usually feel bad in those cases.
posted by JHarris at 5:40 PM on January 13, 2010


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