Daddy Longlegs Discovered In Laos Has 13-Inch Leg Span

10/17/2012 08:10 am ET

By: OurAmazingPlanet Staff
Published: 10/16/2012 02:25 PM EDT on OurAmazingPlanet

An enormous, new, leggy arachnid with a leg span is just over 13 inches (33 centimeters) has been found lurking in the caves of the Southeast Asian nation of Laos.

The creature is a type of harvestmen, a group of arachnids colloquially called "daddy longlegs" and frequently mistaken for spiders. (The two animals are related, as both are types of arachnids.) The species hasn't previously been described, according to a release describing the finding.

The arachnid's super-long legs make it one of the largest harvestmen ever found. The record-holding species, from South America, has a leg span of 13.4 inches (34 cm), according to the statement.

The creature was discovered by Peter Jäger, an arachnologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany. Jäger found the creature recently while in Laos to film a TV show, collecting spiders and arachnids in between shots.

After failing to identify the species himself, Jäger enlisted the help of a harvestmen expert who couldn't find any published description of the animal. The researchers haven't named the new species yet, and hope to conduct a study of the animal to pinpoint its place in the harvestmen's evolutionary family tree.

Harvestmen are also known as opiliones; unlike spiders, harvestmen lack fangs and venom. One widespread myth holds that "daddy longlegs" are extremely poisonous, which is false. 

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