A-z - Animals

Meet the Absolute Largest Spider in History

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key point:

  • With legs spanning up to a foot, giant hunter spiders have incredibly long legs compared to their bodies.
  • The Goliath Bird Eater is the largest and largest spider ever recorded – with fangs up to 1.5 inches long.
  • From its discovery in 1980 until 2005, Megarachne servinei was known as the largest spider until it was identified as a form of sea scorpion.

Spiders are arachnids known for their distinctive eight-legged appearance. About 50,000 different species of spiders have been identified today. They are found all over the world except Antarctica and have adapted to live in a wide variety of habitats.

With so many different species, it's no surprise that spiders can vary widely in size. The world's smallest spider is as tiny as a pinhead, but just how big is the biggest?

Join us as we discover the absolute biggest spider in history!

Closeup of a hunter spider
Hunter spiders have the longest leg spans.

©Paul Looyen/Shutterstock.com

all about spiders

Spiders are arachnids of the class Aranea , characterized by eight legs and the ability to make intricate silk webs. Arachnida is the largest order of Arachnida, comprising about 130 different families. Spiders are known for their diversity and ability to survive and reproduce in a wide range of habitats.

Their color often helps them do this. This is because many species have the same coloration as their primary habitat, so they can easily blend in and avoid predators. Spiders also vary in size, from the smallest Pata digua spider (only 0.015 inches long) to the famous tarantula, which has a body the size of a human hand.

While it's generally accepted that all spiders use their webs to catch prey, different species use different methods. While some do use their webs to catch prey, some are ambush predators, while others mimic plants and even ants.

Depending on the size of the spider, prey can be anything from tiny insects to birds or rodents. Almost all spiders have two hollow fangs, which they use to inject venom into their prey. However, most spiders are not actually considered dangerous to humans. This is because most humans have a weak venom that does no harm.

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Spiders reproduce by laying eggs, and females can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Incredibly, the female will encase her eggs in a sac, which is either left on the web or carried with her. Depending on the species, this oocyst can be as big as a tennis ball!

Where do spiders live?

Spiders can be found in a variety of habitats around the world.

Some species live in trees, while others live in underground burrows or burrows. Some spiders live in deserts, while others live in rainforests or other moist environments.

Many spiders live in or near human habitation, such as homes, gardens, or other man-made structures. Some species are also aquatic, living in freshwater or marine environments.

Spiders are known to be found in a wide range of habitats and are able to adapt to new environments.

largest spider in history

The largest spider in history was a goliath bird-eater - a species of tarantula
The Goliath birdeater is the heaviest spider in the world.

©juerginho/Shutterstock.com

The absolute largest spider in history was the Goliath bird-eater (Theraphosa blondi), which is the largest spider in existence today by length and weight . It weighs about 6.2 ounces and can reach an incredible 5.1 inches in length – easily making it one of the most terrifying and intimidating spiders in the world. Its legs can be up to 11 inches across and are usually light brown or tan in color. Goliath bird-eaters are native to South America—especially the Amazon rainforest—and live in swamps or burrows near swamps.

Goliath bird-eaters, a member of the tarantula family, have fangs that are 0.8 to 1.5 inches long. Although they are venomous, they are not considered dangerous and their bite is similar to a wasp sting. Despite their name, Goliath bird-eaters don't usually prey entirely on birds. Instead, they prefer to eat various insects, lizards, frogs and mice.

Once they have caught their prey, they drag it back to their burrow to eat it. However, they don't just slip right in. Instead, these gigantic spiders inject toxins into their prey, liquefying them internally. They just literally suck everything up, which only adds to their horrible reputation.

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While Goliath bird-eaters don't have a particularly strong venom, they do have an effective – if rather unusual – defense mechanism…they shoot setae at their predators! This surprising effect can be detrimental to both the skin and mucous membranes. However, it is usually only used as a last resort. Goliath bird-eaters also rub their fur together and make loud hissing noises. Hear it up to 15 feet away!

What about leg stretch?

Although goliath bird-eaters are considered the largest spiders in the world, giant hunters only manage to best them in terms of leg span.

Giant hunters have legs that are up to a foot wide, and their legs are incredibly long compared to their bodies. The giant hunting spider is the largest of the hunting spiders. However, their bodies themselves are small, only 1.8 inches long.

Giant hunters are native to Laos, where they tend to live in caves—often near cave entrances. They don't catch their prey on the web. Instead, they use their long legs to chase their prey. Their diet usually consists of anything smaller than them that they can catch and eat.

The biggest spider ever

Closeup of Joro Spider
The largest extinct spider was closely related to the modern golden orb weaver.

© iStock.com/David Hansher

If the idea of a giant bird-eater isn't scary enough, imagine a beast more terrifying than any spider in existence. Imagine a spider with a foot long body and a foot and a half leg span. Discovered in a 300-million-year-old rock in Argentina, Megarachne servinei was created to be the largest spider that ever existed, and in fact it was… until it didn't exist.

From its discovery in 1980 until 2005, Megarachne servinei was widely known as the largest spider that ever lived. Despite looking like a spider, scientists have not been able to determine why it lacks certain distinctive spider traits.

However, another giant spider specimen was discovered in 2005. After many studies, the truth was finally known. Incredibly, Megarachne is not a giant spider, but a previously unknown sea scorpion. This revelation quickly restored Goliath Birdeater to his status as the greatest spider and rewrote the history books.

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With the reclassification of Megarachne , the largest known extinct spider and largest fossil spider is now Nephilia jurassica . Nephilia jurassica is closely related to extant golden orb weavers and dates back 165 million years.

However, compared to spiders that have never been seen—in fact, the largest spiders today— Jurassic spiders are far from giant spiders. Instead, they have 1-inch bodies and 5-inch leg spans. That means the giant bird-eater looks set to stay ahead for the foreseeable future.

most poisonous spider

The Sydney funnel-web spider, Atrax robustus, is a venomous spider native to Australia. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it has earned the title of the most dangerous spider in the world to humans. While these spiders can be found in many moist habitats, such as under logs or gardens, they are also known for their aggressive behavior when disturbed.

Their large size and fangs are especially frightening to those who see them in person. The venom produced by this species is highly toxic and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. However, there exists a potent antivenom that helps reduce the mortality rate associated with this spider bite.

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featured image

Largest Spider: Goliath Bird Eating Spider
Goliath tarantula is the heaviest spider in the world.

© juerginho/Shutterstock.com


about the author


For many years, I have been writing professionally, with an emphasis on animals and wildlife. I love spending time outdoors, and when I'm not writing I'll be found on a farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep and pigs.

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