Where The Name Tarantula Came From
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Copyright: By: Martin Overton
The name tarantula comes from a real spider that is found in Spain, it lives mainly in an area around the town of Taranto. In fact the real tarantula (The European Wolf Spider, Lycosa Tarantula) is distantly related to the other spiders that share its name.
The real tarantula is a small slightly hairy spider (about 2 inches ((5cm)) across). It is not dangerous to humans!
The people of the Spanish town of Taranto, believed that if they were bitten by they spider that they called tarantula, if the bite was not treated quickly, that they would die.
The only way to survive it's bite, they believed, was to do a dance called the Tarantella. This involved very fast spinning and jumping until they could dance no more and fell to the ground exhauasted. This the locals believed was the only cure.
The real Tarantula of course is, like the other spiders wrongly named after it, are not really dangerous to most humans. You may feel a little sick if you have been bitten by a tarantula, but normally that is all.
Nowadays, all large hairy spiders have been given the name tarantula, even though many are only very distantly related to the real tarantula. Tarantulas are often called bird eating spiders, very few actually eat birds, those that do usually raid nests and take the young chicks, most however, like our native spiders only eat insects.