We are keeping a brave face down at the Old Entomologist, telling each other that "I never accepted that report from Gorb et al.", and "Rind et al. was too good to be true" -- except for the hipsters who reckon that they stopped believing in silk-secreting tarantula feet months ago when Foelix et al. published.
This is good news for the Spider, who has always relied on a web-gun rather than his pedal appendages to shoot
Anyway, we have consoled ourselves with an argument about the taxonomy of these little cuties:
The Economic Times cites "British naturalist Dr Vejay K Singh, popularly known as Dr Venom": "This is indeed a theraphosid spider or more commonly called tarantula. Most likely from the genus selenocosmia or lyrognathus, but more probably the former." In the absence of an image showing the labiosternal junction, we were not in a position to dispute the genus. But clearly they are theraphosidae -- note the 8 small eyes located on an ocular tubercule, and the dimple or fovea in the carapace where the stomach muscles attach. Also diagnostic is the pair of large three-segmented spinnerets.
You can tell the male theraphosids for they have the end of each pedipalp specialised into a cymbium, and of course they won't ask for directions when they're lost. Also they are equipped with extra silk glands around the genitals, which allows for party tricks and social accomplishments and makes up for the non-silk-squirtiness of their feet.
The mystery arachnids are reported from Assam State in India:
Why the inverted commas around 'tarantula', as if the family is in doubt? I can understand the uncertainty as to whether the victims were actually killed. They might be in some kind of yogic suspended-animation trance.
What does "an entomologist on condition of anonymity" have to say? Good question!
However, what is worrying is the way these arachnids surfaced all of a sudden and started biting everyone around. Its behaviour shows that it is not used to human presence; so, there is some ground to believe that this may have been accidentally or intentionally introduced to our eco-system [...] The government should delve into this issue and find out how these arachnids arrived here.Obviously, they're lost. They should have stopped to ask for directions.
UPDATE: It belatedly occurs to me that the Spider's steampunk bra is actually a breast-enlargement vacuum pump that he credulously bought on the Interthreads and continues to wear out of stubbornness, rather than admit that he was ripped off.