‘Scary’ spider photos on Facebook are revealing new species


Freaky photos of giant spiders on social media may have revealed dozens of new species.

“When people see an animal that they think is frightening or dangerous, the most common response is to take a photo and post it to social media,” says Heather Campbell, previously at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and now at Harper Adams University, UK.

In 2013, Campbell got involved with some “massive spider nerds”, who drove around at night watching for spiders on the road and “tickling” tarantulas out of their burrows with blades of grass. “I sort of got drawn into that excitement and enthusiasm,” she says.

They focused on baboon spiders, a subfamily of the larger tarantula group found in eastern and southern Africa. About 56 species are known, but Campbell says much remains unknown.

To find out more, they built the Baboon Spider Atlas. They combed Facebook, online forums