21 Mar 2009

Deadly Spider Found in Tulsa Whole Food’s Bananas?

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A Brazilian wandering spider, Phoneutria spp. (8 species)

Fox News reports on the mystery of the Tulsa bananas.

One of the most deadly spiders in the world was found in the produce section of an upscale Oklahoma grocery store.

Or was it?

An employee of Whole Foods Market in Tulsa discovered what an expert said was a Brazilian wandering spider in a bunch of bananas from Honduras on Sunday and managed to catch it in a container.

The spider was given to University of Tulsa animal facilities director Terry Childs, who identified the arachnid and said that type of spider is one of the most lethal in the world.

Childs said a bite will kill a person in about 25 minutes, and while there is an antidote, he doesn’t know of any in the Tulsa area.

But a Tulsa Zoo official disputed the findings, saying his analysis through video and photos he’d seen led him to believe that it was a Huntsman spider — which is harmless to humans.

“There’s pretty definitive evidence it has been misidentified,” said Barry Downer, the zoo’s curator of aquariums and herpetology.

Downer said the spider should have been preserved for study, but he was told that the body would not be made available. …

Childs said Wednesday night that he had destroyed the spider at the urging of a university administrator because of safety concerns.

The lethality of Brazilian wandering spiders is disputed, perhaps because the spider sometimes envenomates less than fully, or not at all. The wandering spider’s venom is neurotoxic, and as an interesting side effect its bites are known to result on some occasions in Priapism.

Huntsman spider, Sparassidae family (82 genera, 1009 species)


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