tarantula


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tarantula

(tərăn`chələ), name applied chiefly to species of the large, hairy spidersspider,
organism, mostly terrestrial, of the class Arachnida, order Araneae, with four pairs of legs and a two-part body consisting of a cephalothorax, or prosoma, and an unsegmented abdomen, or opisthosoma.
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 of the family Theraphosidae of North and South America, Africa, S and SE Asia, and Australia. The body of a tarantula, in the case of the largest, the Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), may be as much as 4.7 in. (11.9 cm) long and, with legs extended, up to 11 in. (28 cm) across. The largest tarantulas may kill small vertebrates, but their usual food is other arthropods. The bite of a tarantula may be painful but is not usually dangerous to humans. Most tarantulas found in the United States are members of the genus Aphonopelma, the largest of which have leg spreads of up to 6 in. (15.2 cm). The smaller Texas brown tarantula, A. hentzi, may be found in the W United States as far north as Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.

The name tarantula is also applied to the purse-web spiders (family Atypidae) and funnel-web spiders (Dipluridae and Hexathelidae) of the Old and New World, and sheet funnel-web spiders or dwarf tarantulas (Mecicobothriidae) of the New World; there is a tailless whip scorpion genus Tarantula. Originally the name was applied to a spider of the wolf spider family, Lycosa tarantula, of S Europe, whose bite was supposed to cause tarantism, a nervous condition characterized by hysteria; the best cure was believed to be strenuous and prolonged dancing of the tarantellatarantella
, Neapolitan folk dance that first appeared in Taranto, Italy, in the 17th cent. It had rapid 6–8 meter with an increasing tempo and was thought to cure the bite of the tarantula (Lycosa tarantula,
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. Spider families are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, class Arachnida, order Araneae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tarantula

 

any of several species of the family Lycosidae (the wolf spiders). Tarantulas live in holes as deep as 60 cm and hunt insects at night. All tarantulas are more or less poisonous but are not dangerous to man.

The USSR has one species, Lycosa singoriensis. It is up to 3.5 cm long and lives in deserts, semideserts, and forest steppes. It reproduces at the end of summer; the female lays eggs in an egg sac, which she guards. After hatching, the young spiders perch on the female’s abdomen, remaining there for some time. The bite of L. singoriensis is as painful as the sting of a hornet and causes swelling.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

tarantula

[tə′ran·chə·lə]
(invertebrate zoology)
Any of various large hairy spiders of the araneid suborder Mygalomorphae.
Any of the wolf spiders comprising the family Lycosidae.

Tarantula

[tə′ran·chə·lə]
(astronomy)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

tarantula

spider with a deadly venom. [Zoology: NCE, 2695]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

tarantula

1. any of various large hairy mostly tropical spiders of the American family Theraphosidae
2. a large hairy spider, Lycosa tarentula of S Europe, the bite of which was formerly thought to cause tarantism
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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