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World's largest web-spinning spider found in South Africa


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World's largest web-spinning spider found in South Africa



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 1:47 PM on 21st October 2009



A new giant spider - which has huge five-inch females and tiny males - has been discovered by scientists.


The female of the new species of golden orb weaver spider has a body one and a half inches long with a leg span of five inches and weaves a web more than three feet wide.


The tiny male, however, has a leg span of just one inch. The variation of the Nephila species, named as Nephila Komaci, was discovered by US and Slovenian researchers in Africa and Madagascar.


Enlarge article-1221869-06E4EA4B000005DC-159_468x357.jpg A new giant orb spider has been discovered in South Africa. It has a leg span of five inches and weaves webs three feet wide.


In the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team from the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, described how until recently, said they believed the giant Nephila was extinct.

But Jonathan Coddington from the Smithsonian said a South African colleague found a male and two females in Africa's Tembe Elephant Park allowing researchers to confirm it did exist.


Tests were then carried out that confirmed it was the largest orb weaver ever known and was a newly identified species.







Coddington said: 'We fear the species may be endangered, as its only definite habitat is a sand forest in Tembe Elephant Park in Kwa-Zulu-Natal.


'Our data suggests that the species is not abundant, its range is restricted and all known localities lie within two endangered biodiversity hotspots: Maputaland and Madagascar.'




Nephila spiders are renowned for being the largest web-spinning spiders. Although males are five times smaller than their mates, they are actually normal-sized - it is the females who are giants.


N.Komaci was named after Kuntner's best friend, Andrej Komac, who died in an accident at the time of the discovery.


Kuntner said: 'My friend, himself a scientist, encouraged me to tackle this PhD, but did not live to see the discoveries made.


'He was a big inspiration, and a great friend, thus it was logical to name this new species to his memory.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1221869/Giant-orb-web-spider-discovered-Worlds-largest-web-spinning-arachnid-South-Africa.html#ixzz0UZnWxwLl

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