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Heteropoda maxima, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Araneomorphae
Taxon: Neocribellatae
Series: Entelegynae
Sectio: Dionycha
Superfamilia: Sparassoidea

Familia: Sparassidae
Subfamilia: Heteropodinae
Genus: Heteropoda
Species: Heteropoda maxima

Heteropoda maxima Jäger, 2001

Type locality: Village Tham, 140m alt., province of Cammon, Laos

Holotype ♂: MNHN (V.1933; M. Colani)

Jäger, P. 2001. A new species of Heteropoda (Araneae, Sparassidae, Heteropodinae) from Laos, the largest huntsman spider? Zoosystema 23: 461–465. [463, f. 1A-E, 2A-E] PDF

The giant huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima) is a species of the huntsman spider family Sparassidae found in Laos.[3] It is considered the world's largest spider by leg span,[3] which can reach up to 30 cm (1 ft).[4]

The colouration is yellowish-brown with several irregularly distributed dark spots on the rear half. The legs have wide dark bands before the first bend. Like all huntsman spiders, the legs of the giant huntsman spider are long compared to the body, and twist forward in a crab-like fashion.[3]

Apart from its size, the H. maxima can be distinguished from other species of Heteropoda by genital characteristics. On males, the cymbium is at least three times longer than the tegulum. The female is distinguished by a characteristically shaped epigyneal field with two anterior directed bands, and the course of their internal ducts.[citation needed]

The giant huntsman spider is the largest member of the family Sparassidae, boasting a 30 cm (12 in) leg-span, and 4.6 cm (1.8 in) body-length.[2] The largest known member of the Sparassidae known prior to the discovery of H. maxima was the Australian Beregama aurea (L. Koch, 1875) with a body length of about 4 cm (1.6 in).[5] (Other relatively large members of Sparassidae have been discovered in recent years, including Cerbalus aravaensis, the largest in the Middle East).
Taxonomy and naming

Heteropoda maxima was first described in 2001 by Peter Jäger,[1] after being discovered in a cave in Laos.[4] Over a thousand new species of plant and animal were found between 1997 and 2007 in the Greater Mekong Subregion.[6]

A representative of the World Wide Fund for Nature stated that "some of these species really have no business being recently discovered",[4] suggesting that it is surprising for such a large species to go undiscovered for so long.[citation needed]
Distribution and habitat

The giant huntsman spider is found in Laos, and is believed to be a cave dweller because of its pale colour, long legs and special hairs on the second foot of the male. There is no apparent reduction of the eyes, possibly because the species lives near cave entrances.[2][7]

Florian and Diana Schnös discovered cannibalism within the species of giant huntsman spiders in a cave near Vang Vieng in Laos.[3] Female individuals may eat male individuals after mating, a characteristic more commonly associated with the genus Latrodectus, the true widows, although it is considered normal spider behavior.
Female giant huntsman eating male
See also

Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), largest known spider in the world by mass
Mongolarachne jurassica, the largest known fossilized spider
Cerbalus aravaensis, a huntsman spider found in Israel and Jordan


"Taxon details Heteropoda maxima Jäger, 2001". World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
Jaeger P. 2001. A new species of Heteropoda (Araneae, Sparassidae, Heteropodinae) from Laos, the largest huntsman spider? Zoosystema 23 (3): 461–465.
Szalay, Jessie (21 November 2013). "Giant Huntsman Spider: World's Largest Spider By Leg Span". Live Science. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
"PHOTOS: Cyanide Millipede, Huge Spider Among New Species". National Geographic. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
"The Find-a-spider Guide: Beregama Aurea". University of South Queensland. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
"New species discoveries". World Wide Fund for Nature. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2008.

"New Species Alert!Hot Pink Millipede, Collosal [sic] Spider, and Tiny Deer Emerge". Retrieved 18 December 2008.

Further reading

Bayer, Steffen; Jaeger, Peter (June 2009). "Heteropoda species from limestone caves in Laos (Araneae: Sparassidae: Heteropodinae)". Zootaxa. 1 (2143): 23. Retrieved 29 April 2015.[permanent dead link]


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