Australia, once again, blesses the internet with another terrifying photo of a local animal. This time, baring its alarmingly red fang (just the one), is none other than a funnel-web spider.
This blood-curdling beauty was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery for Mark Wong, an invertebrate zoologist from the Australian National University.
Wong found the creature while hunting for spiders in the Tallaganda State Forest in New South Wales. He flipped over a rock and spotted a spider-burrow underneath it. Wong then did the obvious thing and poked the burrow with a stick.
This was the result:
Out scuttled this remarkable spider, arms raised and fangs ready. This was when Wong was taken aback by its red belly and single red fang. Usually, the funnel-web has a black underbelly and fangs, like the one in the picture below.
"Before I knew it, boom! She had rushed out of her silken lair with her legs raised and fangs greeting me with glistening venom," Wong told Australian Geographic.
Your regular black Funnel-web spider. James van den Broek/Shutterstock.
Wong isn't certain exactly what caused the red pigmentation, but suspects it may be the result of a rare genetic mutation.
"So what we are seeing in this particular specimen may be a case where the genes for red pigment are being expressed in the wrong tissue.
"Alternatively, it is possible that 'normal' funnel-web spiders do actually express red pigment in the areas that show up clearly in this 'special' specimen, but it's just that the red is usually obscured by brown or black melanin in the 'normal' spiders," he added. "Perhaps in this specimen, the melanin genes have not been expressed, thus revealing the red pigmentation underneath."
[H/T: Australian Geographic]