Here's a spider you probably shouldn't try to squash if you find one in your home: Kankuamo marquezi, a newly discovered species of tarantula with serrated, sword-like hairs, reports The New York Times.
This giant arachnid knows how to fight back. Researchers believe it prefers to stab its victims at close range with its terrifying arsenal of deadly sharp barbs, possibly as both a hunting strategy and as a defensive mechanism.
Though the new species is not the first tarantula known to possess urticating hairs — sharp defensive hairs that can be flicked like ninja stars at anything threatening — the hairs on Kankuamo marquezi are unique. They're serrated, and are structured more like lances than darts, more suited for a close combat duel. It's therefore likely that when this tarantula attacks, it runs up and stabs its target directly. The hairs are so unique, in fact, that the spider was not only designated a new species, but an entirely new genus.
“Urticating hairs are used as defense against natural enemies,” explained Carlos Perafán, lead author on the study. “These hairs are different from hairs covering the body of tarantulas because they have a penetrating tip, which allows the hair to embed in the skin or mucous membranes and cause irritation.”
Scientists had previously identified six types of urticating hairs on tarantulas, and Kankuamo marquezi now adds a seventh. The new species was found during a research expedition in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in Colombia. It was named after Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel-prize winning author who lived in Colombia, and the new genus was named after the Kankuamo, the indigenous people who inhabit the region where the tarantula was found.
Scientists have yet to witness the species' actual attack strategy, so they were left to guess based upon the design of its hairs. Further research will be needed to see this terrorizing spider in action. That is, if anyone dares.