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Scientists discover tarantula with a bizarre horn on its back

Spider expert Ian Enelbrecht photographed this close-up of the strange horn of C. attonitifer.

Ian Enelbrecht

Excuse me, you want to talk to your nightmares.

Take a moment to say hello to Ceratogyrus attonitifer, a spider with a generic name derived from the Latin root for amazement. Because that's just how surprised the scientists were who found it.

The new-to-science tarantula sports a horny protrusion on its back. Researchers from the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project discovered it in Angola in Africa while researching biodiversity in the region.

Ceratogyrus attonitifer is a type of horned baboon spider, but the prominent soft horn is highly unusual. The team described the tarantula in a newspaper that was published this month in the journal African Invertebrates. "No other spider in the world has a similar foveal projection," say the researchers.

The spiders are poisonous and like to eat on insects. "The poison is not considered dangerous, although bite marks can lead to infections that can be fatal due to poor medical access," the newspaper notes.

C. Attonitifer may seem frightening or frightening to people who are afraid of spiders, but it is an eye-opener for arachnologists. Researchers hope to study the mysterious spin further in order to learn more about the scope of its range.

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