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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

African Giant Spider Invasion




[Giant Orb Web Spider Recently Discovered in South Africa]

A Brazillian member at the Frontiers of Zoology discussion group recently sent in the links to the articles as reproduced below:

http://english.pravda.ru/science/mysteries/09-08-2010/114542-giant_spiders-0/
From PRAVDA (English-Language version)

Fact or Fiction? Giant Spiders in Africa...and USA09.08.2010
New research has been conducted into the J’Ba FoFi (Giant Spider) in the Congo, said to have a leg span of five feet across. Records of this monster have been documented in African Folklore for centuries, however further studies have unearthed encounters with westerners and, according to one, this creature has also been spotted in the United States of America.
New research by Terrence Aym* has documented tales from African folklore, of a species of giant spider living in the Congo, Uganda and Central Africa in densely forested areas. More than this, he has uncovered testimonies from Western travellers in the area, who confirm the reports of a monster spider with a leg span of five feet across.
Terrence Aym’s piece in his site helium.com tells of massive spiders living in forests near African villages, with webs stretched across pathways and trip-wires to ensnare passers-by, including humans, who are then pounced upon and injected with venom by the creatures’s fangs.
Aym’s research shows these monster arachnids are more than flights of fantasy in African folklore: there are documented encounters with explorers. Cryptozoologist George Eberhart writes of an encounter between a British couple and the J’Ba FoFi in 1938, when what they thought to be a cat or a monkey crossing the path in front of them turned out to be a giant spider three feet across.
Another cryptozoologist, Willian J. Gibbons, was told of the J’Ba FoFi by the pygmies inhabiting the Congolese jungle on his third expedition to the region. Their description of the J’Ba FoFi was the same as that told in other accounts, namely a giant spider which can reach a span of five feet across, brown on top with a purple abdomen which weaves nests of leaves and web. The article reveals that this creature was once very common in the region but its numbers have dwindled in recent years due to the destruction of its habitat.
Other sightings have been made, one as recently as the year 2000, when two Americans were informed by a village leader that a giant spider had built a nest in the forest behind the village.
Sighting in the USAHowever it is not only in Africa that the giant spider has been seen: according to Cryptomundo** there was a sighting in Leesville, Lousiana one evening in 1948, when a spider “as big as a washtub” crossed the road in front of a family of church-goers.
*Terrence Aym is a US-based writer. Read the original article:
http://www.helium.com/items/1824206-possibility-of-the-existence-of-the-congolese-giant-spider

** http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/giantspiders/

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY
PRAVDA.Ru


Possibility of the existence of the Congolese giant spider
by Terrence Aym
May 05, 2010
Spiders might exist that have crawled out of nightmares. They're called the "J'ba FoFi" (giant spider, pronounced ch-bah foo fee) in Central Africa.

Many people might define a giant spider as one that's bigger than their hand. Some may think bigger and envision the horrifying Goliath 'bird eating spider' that dwells in the darker corners of the ancient Amazon rain forest. That eight-legged terror spans a whopping 14-inches.[14 inches is larger than officially allowed-DD]
Unfortunately, those people aren't thinking big enough.

The size of the Congolese Giant spider-when its legs are included-is said to be up to five feet across.

According to cryptozoologists (researchers that investigate unknown creatures that have not been recognized by orthodox science), most of the J'ba FoFi dwell in the Congo. Natives tell stories of the giant web-nests the spiders build, similar to a trap-door spider.

Most of the many anecdotal tales describe the spiders digging a shallow tunnel under tree roots and camouflaging it with a large bed of leaves. Then they create an almost invisible web between their burrow and a nearby tree, booby-trapping the whole thing with a network of trip lines. Some hapless creature—soon to end up on the menu—will trip the line alerting the spider. The victim will be chased into the web. This predatory entrapment is similar to some species of tarantula.

Presumably, the J'ba FoFi eggs are a pale yellow-white and shaped like peanuts. Native claim the hatchlings are bright yellow with a purple abdomen. Their coloration becomes darker and brown as they mature.

Some of the natives indigenous to the regions in the Congo where the J'ba FoFi has been seen assert that the spider was once quite common, but has become very rare.

Other than the testimonies of natives, the fullest account by Westerners appears in a cryptozoological book by George Eberhart. On page 204, Eberhart relates the terrifying experience of an English couple traveling through a jungle region of what is now called the Congo:

"R.K. Lloyd and his wife were motoring in the Belgium Congo in 1938 when they saw a large object crossing the trail in front of them. At first, they thought it was a cat or monkey, but they soon realized it was a spider with legs [spanning] nearly 3 feet [across]." [1]

Famous naturalist and cryptozoologist, William J. Gibbons, has hunted for what some think may be a living African dinosaur called Mokele-mbembe. On his third expedition in search of the creature he came upon natives who related their experiences
with giant spiders. He shared his experience with readers upon his return to Canada:

"On this third expedition to Equatorial Africa, I took the opportunity to inquire if the pygmies knew of such a creature [giant spider], and indeed they did! They speak of the Jba Fofi, which is a "giant" or "great spider." They described a spider that is generally brown in color with a purple abdomen. They grow to quite an enormous size with a leg span of at least five feet. The giant arachnids weave together a lair made of leaves similar in shape to a traditional pygmy hut, and spin a circular web (said to be very strong) between two trees with a strand stretched across a game trail."

This is exactly the same description that other researchers have heard. Although the spider seems to have been spotted mostly in the Congo, there are reports of the same—or similar—spiders inhabiting Uganda and the Central African Republic.

"These giant ground-dwelling spiders prey on the diminutive forest antelope, birds, and other small game, and are said to be extremely dangerous, not to mention highly venomous," Gibbons states. "The spiders are said to lay white, peanut-sized eggs in a cluster, and the pygmies give them a wide birth when encountered, but have killed them in the past. The giant spiders were once very common but are now a rare sight."

Many of the natives describe the spiders as once being numerous, but now a vanishing species. Encroachment by civilization in the form of rain forest being converted to farming may have driven the spiders from their natural habitats.

[Although their numbers are dwindling] they are still encountered from time to time. The Baka chief, Timbo, casually mentioned to us that a giant spider had taken up residence in the forest just behind his village in November 2000, when I and Dave Woetzel from New Hampshire had visited him! He did not think that we would have been interested in the creature as our interest was focused on Mokele-mbembe at the time! Valuable evidence had eluded us."

Cryptozoologists—like any other researchers—sometimes only get the information they specifically ask for!

If these giants do indeed exist, their physiology is puzzling. As some entomologists have rightly pointed out, spiders of that size would have to overcome the limitations of their exoskeletons. In addition to that hurdle, many of the more primitive arachnids have a primitive book-lung respiratory system. Modern spiders, however, often have a trachea and book-lungs. That combination allows for a smaller heart, more efficient blood flow and greater speed and stamina. If the Congolese giant spiders exist, they would most likely have both trachea and book-lungs. [2]

"On questioning our group of six Baka guides," Gibbons narrative continues, "they have all seen these spiders at one time or another and state that they are quite capable of killing a human being. According to the Baka (and the Bantu hunters who have encountered them) the giant spiders were once surprisingly common and would often construct their lairs very close to human villages. They have become quite rare now thanks mainly to the deforestation of Central Africa, but my guess would be that they are still to be found in numbers in the vast and still untouched forests of the former [Belgian Congo or Zaire] where the Lloyds encountered one in 1938." [3]
Gibbons knew the Lloyd's personally and adds that Mr. Lloyd tried to get a photo of the spider while Mrs. Lloyd was so stricken with fear all she wanted to do was return to their home in Rhodesia.

Other stories of giant spiders abound. Some of the stories are little more than spotty tales told in the villages of unnamed missionaries whose porters were killed by giant spiders.

An English missionary named Arthur Simes related an incident that occurred in Uganda during the 1890s. While trekking near the shore of Lake Nyasa, his porters became entangled in a monstrous web. Several giant spiders swiftly descended upon them, injecting the men with poisonous venom. Later, all the men's extremities swelled, they grew feverish, delirious and then died.

Simes claimed he drove the giant spiders off with his pistol.

Whether the Congo spider is real, or a myth remains to be seen. And hopefully, whomever the researcher is hunting for it will see the spider before it sees him.

[1] "Mysterious Creatures – A Guide to Cryptozoology," George M. Eberhart, Giant spider, p. 204.

[2] "The spider"[Information retrieved from book of speculative cryptofiction]

[3] "The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology"


-I had always associated such stories with the West African taditions of Anasi the spider, transported to the Southern USA by slaves and then turned into stories about the spider Aunt Nancy. If there is anything to the allegations of reports in the US, it is probably from the Aunt Nancy tradition. Anasi is said to sometimes appear as a giant spider 'As big as a hut'











[Left: Anasi the Spider] [Right:Anasi The Spider Shadow Puppet]






I had heard of Gibbons' information from another Cryptozoology group owner on yahoo (since retired) and satisfied myself that the giant webs did exist, but they were the product of a much smaller spider. The thought occurred to me that the "Giant Spider" did not actually need to be a spider at all-it could be a land crab built like the deepsea Japanese spider crab only smaller, maybe half the size. It would live in a hole in the ground covered by leaves and then jump out at small prey when it felt vibrations through the ground. The web-tripline would be based on mere supposition, and other crabs also behave in that same manner. So I made a pasteup of the concept as a scale illustration of such a land-spidercrab in comparison to an African Pygmy, both images from Wikipedia:






Best Wishes, Dale D.

21 comments:

  1. The two Anasi photos have gotten juggled around and as a result are not in the sequence I had intended, Left and Right. As they are now, the shadowpuppet is the one on top.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My now deceased girlfriend (bless her soul) was arachnophobic and would have fainted at the very reading of this article. =)

    VERY interesting post!!!!!! Thank you Dale.

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  3. I hope to return to Africa in November this year. Berfore we embark on another expedition, we hope to have the Baka people commence some forest exploration to seek out these sizeable spiders for us to document.

    Bill Gibbons

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  4. Thank you for mentioning that, since you are usually cited as the avenue this information comes along. And please bear in mind when you are making your enquiries that "Spiders" in the colloquial sense does not necessarily mean "Spiders" in the literal sense. It sounds as if your informants are making literal statements when the actual sightings do not necessarily warrant those conclusions. And I do not mean to sound condescending by making that remark, I am as anxious to get to the bottom of this matter as you are: we just have got to be extermely careful in these matters.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think your theory that these are large crabs rather than actual "spiders" is probably correct.

    http://tinyurl.com/3wzc656

    As the photo I have linked above demonstrates...such land crabs can be pretty terrifying.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is a Japanaese Kaiju Monster Movie crab, I believe. But based on the same giant crabs that live in the sea around Japan. And my pase-up I did with the original article above IS to the correct absolute scale. If you like I could put up some photos of coconut crabs which do live on land, grow to a very large size, and were reported to feed upon shipwrecked sailors where available. No fooling.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Aiagin,

    The French Mokele-mbembe researcher, Michel Ballot, is off to Cameroon this month (November). Unfortunately I cannot accompany him this time, but will make it a certainty in 2012.

    Regarding the giant spiders, we showed the Baka (and other tribes) pictures of know living animals, including spiders. They were able to positively identify and describe something that looked like a tarantula but of gigantic size. Hopefully Michel will bring back some further evidence!

    Bill
    africanmysteries@yahoo.ca

    ReplyDelete
  8. OK, but the chances of anybody finding a giant tarantuala anywhere near that size are mighty slim. On the other hand, you not only have hairy crabs that might be said to look like hairy tarantulas with claws (the so-called Yeti crabs), you DO have giant crabs that look like giant spiders And in fact the crabs which look like giant spiders are large enough to be the size of the creatures as reported by the natives , which is a significant boost in favor of the spidery-landcrab theory over the incredibly-outsized tarantula theory. And when gigantic animals grow large, they are never that much larger than their known relatives. That is why there is some hope somebody might still find a fifty-foot anaconda or python, but nobody expects seriously to find a 500-foot long one. Finding a tarantula that size is something along the lines of finding a 500 foot long python. It is that much larger than the known tarantulas.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you should re-think your verdict here, the natives that live in or near these thick forest area's, have ne reason too lie, un-like westerners and others. they mention giant very strong webs: note: crabs do-not make webs, so it has too be a spider and a very large one! and the arthur simes encounter was a different spider-not a ground dwelling kind, sounds more like a giant nephila macuate: possibly the size of a soccer or basketball.

      Delete
  9. I do not believe that you understood the material correctly. There is no dispute that the webs exist-but the webs in question are made by small spiders and not the giant ones. The ACTIONS of the "Giant Spiders" has been interpreted as meaning that they lay down trip wire web by OUTSIDERS and not the natives themselves: i made most particularly certain about that part before I went ahead with this interpretation. And if the large spidery land-crabs do live in tunnels they make in the leaf litter, and then spring out at prey items walking byyy-why then the are working the same way some other crabs do, and they are simply sensing vibrations in the ground. There is no reason to assume the "Giant Spiders" themselves make any webs and so far as I have been avle to determine, no actual allegations that they have been seen to make webs. It is only an assumption. The assumption arises mostly from being incredibly literal about an ambiguous tradition.

    And the fact remains, you do not have spiders that get anywehere near that size but you DO have crabs that big. And that part is an established fact, not a theory and not an assumption.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If the native people in the area say they exist, they likely do.

    People will say that these spiders don't exist because such a big spider would have been seen. Of course, they just ignore the people that have seen them.

    Anecdotal reports have very high credibility. Hoaxes are extremely rare. Mistaken identification is usually the thing you have to exclude. A giant spider with a web is unlikely going to be mistaken.

    People saying they just don't believe a large spider exists take that stand because they have been deeply mind f**ked to the nth degree. When the powers that be announce it exists, then they will say it exists but only then.

    It's like bigfoot with tens of thousands reports all over the globe and people still want proof.

    The powers that be have a lot of control over what people will deem true. They have to grow up and think for themselves. Most never will.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OK, just to review again:
    YES, the giant webs exist. And they have been proven to belong to smaller spiders (see original posting)

    AND NO, what gets reported as a giant spider is not necessarily actually a spider. "Spiders" are a very large group of creatures only vaguely related to one another in the first place, and in turn related to scorpions and a number of other more obscure creatures. In this case I think I have made a sound identification: the giant crabs do look like spiders, and we KNOW they exist: furthermore there are land-crabs that act EXACTLY like the suppposed giant spiders are described as doing. NOBODY has ever shown that actual spiders are physiologically capable of getting much bigger than about a foot across, a considerably smaller size than we are talking here. Basically the answer is, you should actually read the content of an article before you attempt to criticize it, because all of your objections were already covered before you made them here

    ReplyDelete
  12. >YES, the giant webs exist.

    just like i can see a spider and know which web is associated with it,
    the natives can see the giant spider and know where it's web is at
    and i am sure you could to.

    sure, small spiders may have their web whether big or small but they could easily associate the small spiders with their webs

    in the end, spiders like to stay close to their webs

    many native eyewitnesses exist in not only africa but also south america
    even children have been carried off and killed.


    >the giant crabs do look like spiders

    they specifically said it looked like a GIANT tarantula. Tarantula's are hairy like

    it should be noted that tarantulas do actually appear to walk like a crab.

    they also said that the GIANT thing that looked like a tarantula lived in a hut shelter above ground

    and it had it's own web

    Now ...

    crabs are not hairy like

    land crabs live in the ground

    crabs don't build webs


    >NOBODY has ever shown that actual spiders are physiologically capable of getting much bigger than about a foot across

    those are the same group of people who claimed for centuries that rogue waves don't exist and that the witnesses were imagining things

    they won't know the physiology until they examine one

    more than enough native eye witnesses who lived in the area have long term visual evidence. that usually trumps any academic claims in my book.

    it really is moot even if you could anoint it a crab because we essentially would have a crab that behaved and looked like a spider

    if it looks like a spider and acts like a spider, we should just call it a spider for now until somebody gets some video on them

    ReplyDelete
  13. Actually it really is moot if you wanted to call it a spider and it really was a crab. You are getting ridiculous.
    Now the fact is that scientists have actually determined the giant webs are made by small spiders. That was an article which actually initiated the original posting. Your attempts to wish the determination away simply will not work: it was a valid determination and properly published at the time.

    Now if all you are going to do is simply gainsay good sound judgements already made by others just because you want to believe it another way this discussion is at an end. YES, the legendary giant spider Anasi has a hut, in the legends it is also anthropomorphosed and spoken of as having human traits and acting as a regular human being does. You get that in Folklore all the time. Folklore is NOT the same as making genuine field observations.

    Now there is no such thing as a spider that is the size of a human pygmy. Nowhere near that. If you could produce another spider only half that size, you might have a more defensible case. But there are giant crabs that look externally like giant spiders and they can be as big as a Pygmy, as illustrated. The problem is in suggesting that they could come out on land but that is a small obstacle when you have crabs that normally do that anyway.And you can have hairy crabs as well. Look up Yeti crab on the search engines.

    This argument is getting repetitive and all you are doing is to continue saying the same things over and over again. "Looks like a big spider" in no way identifies the subject as actually being a gigantic spider. There are other possibilities and I go with the crab explanation. You have not demonstrated that any spider has the physiological adaptations which would allow it to be that big, and with that you have lost any grounds of plausibility for your argument. Now unless you have more new and better arguments and stop submitting your comments anonymously, the matter is at an end.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Watched monster-quest where they went and looked for these, they found large spiders but not as large as in these stories, they did prove it was possible for them to exist though.

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  15. Emma J.
    I doubt this is true. A spider that big could not survive in America. It might be possible that there are these spiders in Africa, but definitely not in America

    ReplyDelete
  16. This seems like large crabs to me, it's hard to wrap my head around a spider being that big.
    Abby Walters

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  17. it's really hard to see spiders evolving to be over 5 feet across, it could exist, but I highly doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. the creepiest thing to think about in my opinion is how strong these things would be and how venomous the fact that they purposely set up shop next to villages proves that were on the menu and they probably like eating us! that is not cool lol i hate the idea of something that should be as mythical as dracula exists anywhere in the world and if it does exist then the possibility of them being in america is probable just because alls it needs is food and similar environment... im gonna need a bigger boot!

    ReplyDelete

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