Despite their diminutive size, some people are downright terrified of spiders and think that the only good spider is a dead spider. So while they may have a creepy appearance, spiders are actually fascinating creatures that have some amazing abilities and have had an incredible history here on Earth. Hopefully the following facts will make them a little less creepy, even if they still look terrifying.
1. Prehistoric Spiders Were Much Smaller
The largest known fossil spider is only about half the size of its modern relatives.
When it comes to prehistoric times, it’s easy to think of everything as bigger. Lizards, sharks and crocodiles were all bigger, so it isn’t too much of a stretch to think at some point that giant spiders also roamed the Earth.
Well, the good news for potential time travelers is that, according to fossils, spiders were about half the size of modern spiders. The biggest fossil of a spider ever found, classified as Nephila Jurassic, was found in China and is about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long. Researchers think that the spider could have grown to up to 2 inches (5 cm).
The bad news for people afraid of spiders, is that the largest spider to ever exist is currently walking the Earth. The South American Goliath Birdeater is about the size of a puppy. (source)
2. You Don’t Swallow Eight Spiders a Year While You Sleep
The old wives’ tale that the average human swallows eight spiders a year while they sleep has no factual basis.
Be careful not to sleep with your mouth open, because according to the alarming stat, you’ve probably swallowed a spider in the last month or two.
The good news is that this is absolutely false and goes against both the biology of spiders and humans. Chances are spiders would just stay away from us while we slept and would focus more on catching prey in places where humans don’t usually go. Plus, if a spider were to crawl on a person’s face, he or she would notice and probably brush it away.
The chance of swallowing one spider in your whole life is incredibly unlucky, let alone eight a year. (source)
3. The Chance of Being Killed by a Black Widow Spider is Miniscule at Best
In the past 10 years, there hasn’t been one person who has been killed in the United States from a black widow spider bite.
The most venomous spider in North America is the dreaded black widow spider. Shortly after being bitten, the victim may feel intense pain and stiffness, and then occasionally they suffer muscle spasms, abdominal pain, chills, fever, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. While the bites are unpleasant, the good news is that the fatality rate from bites is less than 1%. In fact, in the past 10 years, there has not been one fatality from the bite of a black widow spider in the United States. (source)
4. There is a Spider That Flees From Danger Incredibly Fast
When in danger, the Golden Wheel Spider cartwheels away at an incredible rate of speed.
The Golden Wheel Spider lives in the dunes in the Namib Desert of Southern Africa. When it’s in danger, it will curl its legs around its body, essentially becoming a ball. Using the steep slip-faces of the dunes, it will simply roll down the dune reaching speeds of 44 rotations per second. For some perspective, that is like a car traveling at 300 km/h (186 mph). (source)
5. Spider Fighting is an Actual Sport
In the Philippines, Japan, Singapore and prisons in Florida, people have spiders fight one another for sport; it’s like a form of high stakes Pokémon.
Using spiders that are native to the area, like female orb-weavers in the Philippines or male thiania bhamoensis spiders in Singapore, people will have the spiders fight for sport. The spiders are placed on either end of a stick and then prodded along until they meet and fight, sometimes to the death.
People bet on the outcomes of the fights and Japan even has a yearly spider fighting tournament called Kumo Gassen, which is held in Kajiki, Kagoshima. (source)