Colombia seized thousands of deadly cobra, tiger and Gakasicidae spiders

Chacarita; in Amazon jungle, Colombia.

Coordinated by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Colombia’s SIDAG national veterinary office has seized hundreds of a deadly spider in a forest in Chacarita, some 600 kilometers southeast of the capital Bogota.

Categorized as the Pygmy Fire Spider, it is one of two species in the world that belongs to the genus theyididae, and in particular the genus Gakasicidae. Pygmy Fire Spiders have a long, slim body, with a long throat and proboscis at their head and abdomen. The legs are typically of medium length. The legs of this species do not have a tail as some members of the Gakasicidae do. It has a single head and “has no eyes, nose, tongue, mouth or coloration to signify that it is a reptile or arachnid,” according to the Spanish-language website Sur La Técnica.

The large spider was found to be of Asian origin. It has a range from the tropical forests of South America, like its namesake Colombian Pygmy Fire Spider, down to Siberia, but it can reach up to 20 cm long, and it has not grown bigger than 3 cm since the invention of photography in 1867.

It becomes entangled in clothing or in the hair of people around it. Now, Colombia’s customs and taxation agency El Nino has detained hundreds of cobra, Bengal tiger, and Gakasicidae pygmy fire spiders from its public transport and brought them to university labs at the University of Santander for testing, as their bodies contain “intoxicants”. Toxicants are toxic to humans and animals, but it is unclear how damaging these are to them. Colombia also collected samples from the spiders and sent them for testing to UCL, Guyana University, Brescia University, and the University of Maryland.

Colombia was once known for its spider venom which is exported throughout the world. David Cohen, a wiseman from the university of New England at Dartmouth, studied the similarity between the mortality rate for both western and eastern European spiders, and his research found that spiders from Colombia are very highly toxic to both humans and animals, even among those from many different species.

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A 2016 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spider venom from Colombia contains excessive amounts of two toxins which are respectively “generally tolerated”, “usually tolerated”, and “generally not tolerated”. This difference can explain why spiders in Colombia are known to be much more toxic to humans than spiders in other parts of the world. On a smaller scale, the study found that spiders from Colombia do not obey the same behaviour codes and delay killing other spiders until they are within an inch of their target, even when outmatched and surrounded by colleagues.

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