Bali is packed with wonderful experiences for tourists, including picturesque beaches, beautiful diving experiences to coral reefs, ancient Hindu temples, and Ubud—the town that put the “love” in Eat, Pray, Love. Dylan Thomas, a 21-year-old from Western Australia, had a dramatically different experience during his time in Indonesia. Despite staying in a posh hotel, he claims his body played host to a tropical spider for three days after it burrowed into his torso through a scar in his belly button from a recent surgery.
The trouble began one morning when Thomas noticed a red line around two inches long heading up from his navel. Over the course of the day, it had grown by about three inches toward his chest, prompting Thomas to seek medical attention the next morning. The physician initially thought it was a reaction from an insect bite and prescribed a topical anti-histamine.
Unfortunately, the anti-histamine didn’t work. Later on the same day, Thomas reports that the red line, which resembled a hard scratch, began to burn and form blisters. He sought a second opinion the next day and found out the true cause of the lesion: Thomas hadn’t merely been bitten by an insect, but a small arachnid had likely entered his body through a scar in his belly button from a recent appendectomy.
Thomas claims that the arachnid, which was described as slightly larger than the head of a match, was already dead when it was surgically removed. During his three-day-long expedition through Thomas’s body, the creature had gone through the navel all the way up to the sternum. The eight-legged stowaway was sent to an arachnologist who will provide identification of the species in the coming week. In the meantime, Thomas has been describing the visitor as a spider.
After he posted the pictures and his story onto his Facebook page, he quickly gained the nickname “Spider-Man” from his friends and he even joked about becoming a real-life Peter Parker as he prepared to return home to Australia: “Well after a very interesting holiday to say the least it's finally time to get my own country, still hoping I'm going to develop superpowers by the time I'm home I'll be highly disappointed if I haven't...“
However, some arachnologists who have reviewed Thomas’s claims have difficulty believing that it was a spider that engaged in this behavior. There are no known spiders that have the capacity to burrow underneath human skin, or would even have a reason to. Instead, this could have been the handiwork of a parasitic arachnid, such as a mite or tick.
As Thomas wasn’t able to snap a picture of the creature after its extraction from his body, there is no way to tell what invaded his body during his Bali vacation until after it has been identified by the arachnologists who received the specimen.
[Hat tip: HuffPo]