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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spider Eating Bird, Bird Eating Spider - Giant GOLDEN ORB SPIDER EATS FINCH

I hope you aren't eating breakfast. The internet seems a roar with people searching for PICTURES OF a GIANT ORB SPIDER EATING A FINCH.
Photographs of a mammoth spider devouring a native bird in a Queensland backyard published on ninemsn yesterday have sparked worldwide attention but the photographer remains anonymous.

The spectacular shots showing a native finch suspended in the web of a Golden Orb Weaver spider have attracted attention on British news websites.

The images first appeared on website forum Ars Technica on October 16.

User 'Twit', who posted them on the site, told ninemsn they included a caption stating a friend's dad took the photos in his backyard in Atherton, near Cairns.

But ninemsn has followed the email trail back to a recipient in Canberra.

Ninemsn also contacted three Atherton newspapers, two pubs, two schools, the police station, a local vet and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in search of the photographer, without success.

Associate Professor Ron Atkinson — who has conducted extensive research on spiders and toxicology of spider venom at the University of Southern Queensland — said the spider was capable of immobolising large insects but posed no known threat to humans.

Dr Atkinson, who created the Find-a-Spider guide for Australian spiders, said the Golden Orb Weaver spider (Nephila pilipes) was "very efficient at catching insects".

"Their venom quickly immobilises them," he told ninemsn.

But he said it was unlikely it was potent enough have any serious effects on humans and he was not aware of any instance of human envenomation on record.

"I have never heard of anyone being bitten by one and certainly not anyone who was made ill as a result of such a biting," he said.

An emergency consultant at Cairns Base Hospital said anecdotally no one had been treated there for a Golden Orb Weaver spider bite but he had treated one in Newcastle, NSW.

"It's a painful bite but [there is] no serious toxicity… people may feel some nausea. Treatment is pain relief and ice to the bite," he said.

As for the bird, Dr Atkinson said it probably died of fright, dehydration, or exhaustion from its entrapment, rather than direct spider attack.

"However, it does appear that the spider has decided that good food shouldn't go to waste and is therefore attempting to eat the bird, which I find entirely believable," he said.

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