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Monster spider haunts abandoned Mexican mines

If you think regular spiders are scary, just wait until you learn about a newly discovered genus lurking in the dark corners of Baja California.

The Califorctenus cacachilensis looks deadly but isn't especially venomous.
San Diego Natural History Museum

Meet the newly discovered spider that will creep across your nightmares.

Entomologists Michael Wall and Jim Berrian of the San Diego Natural History Museum -- in collaboration with spider expert Maria Jimenez -- have discovered a spider that is both a species and a new genus lurking in the caves and abandoned mines of Baja California in Mexico.

Named the Califorctenus cacachilensis, the low-venom spider has fangs, eight eyes and a hairy, mustard-brown abdomen. It measures about 4 inches (10 cm) across with its legs extended. It's not a tarantula but rivals the size of one.

"This is the type of spider that a lot of people would shriek and run from," Wall told the San Diego Union Tribune this week.

The spider is named after the Sierra Cacachilas mountain range where it was discovered. Wall and Berrian found two dozen of the new spiders and brought back eight to take a closer look at.

"They're pretty meaty," Wall added. "They do have clearly visible fangs. You don't have to look very hard to find them."

After consulting with Jimenez and others, they determined that the new spider is similar to wandering spiders from Brazil but not as venomous.

"I've worked with spiders for 20 years now, and this is the first spider bite I've had," Berrian told KPBS. "It wasn't bad. It felt like being stuck by a cactus spine." The entomologists published their findings in last month's Zootaxa, an international journal for animal taxonomists.

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