Hairy or naked, black or coloured, large or small, spiders are the object of phobias for 3.5 to 6.1% of the population; sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. However, we are ready to take the gamble that the arachnid that we are going to present to you is endowed with an attribute capable of putting an end to all the fears: a pair of outgrowths starting from the top of its head, which makes it look like an innocent little rabbit.
The harvest spider, as innocent as a rabbit
Metagryne bicolumnata is not a spider per se, but rather a so-called harvest spider or daddy-longlegs. Unlike its cousin,this arachnid produces neither silk nor venom, and though its long legs may intimidate you, the creature itself is absolutely harmless. The lower part of M. bicolumnata's body is yellow, while its head is black.
On this head, two small black piercing eyes are close together, giving the illusion of a small rabbit’s nose. Above this illusion of a muzzle, there are two yellow dots, resembling two painted eyes, themselves surmounted by the aforementioned growths that complete the rabbit costume of this friendly long-legged spider.
‘The harvesters have been around for at least 400 million years and have even lived before the dinosaurs,’ reads the site where the naturalist Andreas Kay posted an amazing video where we see the creature evolve in its natural habitat in the forests of Ecuador. ‘Looking at this ‘harvester rabbit’, one cannot help but wonder if a mad scientist grafted a rabbit's head on a spider's legs.’
Discovered for the first time in 1959 by the German arachnologist Carl Friedrich Roewer, M. bicolumnata continues to surprise scientists by its appearance. ‘Perhaps these eye-like spots, associated with the knobs, are meant to deceive the predators by giving the impression that the creature is bigger than it really is.’ Anyway, in the costume contest, the spider-rabbit takes first place!