back to article 2060: Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack

Danish boffins have uncovered an unforeseen, extra downside of the melting of the Arctic ice cap, according to reports. Not only will there be sea level rises and massive flooding*; there will also be a plague of enormous, invulnerable, heavily armoured meat-eating cannibal spiders. The worrying yet exciting news comes …


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  1. Steven Raith

    @Lewis Page

    I love you. I needed a bit of madness today.


    "Pardosa glacialis are apparently well known for snacking on...insufficiently alert sexual partners. Enormous and correspondingly peckish lady spiders might control most of the rest of their species for us, leaving only relatively small numbers to be occasionally culled by game wardens armed with cruise missiles"

    So a bit like the comments section here with Ms Bee, then?

    Steven R

    Skull and crossbones, because if these buggers get to Siberia and the Eurasian mainland, that's all that will be left of us.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Are you quite alright chap?

    Not been to the pub or anything? Talking to The-Incredible-Bullshitting-Man at the bar?

    Even if true the solution is simple......

    We enter into mass production of huge jam jars and cardboard sheets. Oh yes and tranqs for all the squealing women who will be running about.

  3. Dan
    Thumb Up

    Roughnecks go!

    Sounds like Starship Troopers, where's Denise Richards?! Sign me up.

    This is only slightly more scientific than some of the Climate Change research I have seen. Well done.

    Also, you want to be careful that this doesn't end up in national panic a la Daily Mail and swine flu.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May I be the first ...

    ... to welcome our Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spider overlords

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Is it....

    ...a bit of a slow news day Lewis?

    Mine's the coat with the spider-silk ceramic armour pads in the pockets.....

  6. Anonymous John

    Am I the first to say?

    I for one welcome our new arachnid overlords.

    PS Playmobil reconstruction please

  7. Joe K
    Thumb Up


    Get that screenplay finished, Lewis!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roadside Bomb?

    These bad boys can drive?!

  9. johnmc

    Bad math

    Oh pleeeeeze. I know its tongue n cheek but at least make it plausible. There is an upper limit to which those suckers could grow due to mass to strength ratio of the limbs supporting the body. Fact to get to the size of a Humvee and still be able to move the exoskeleton would have to be the reverse of what is suggested. It would have to become as light as possible to maximize the muscle mass to that of the other anatomical structures. The arachnids of the Devonian period got not bigger than 2 meters.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    :-( :-( :-(

    I always knew spiders were really aliens that will one day take over the world. Anything with eight legs, six eyes and two penises is clearly not natural.

  11. Adrian Challinor
    Paris Hilton

    Stab resistant suit?

    Can we havest the silk from these puppies to make suits that are stab resistant, harder than kevlar, etc? Sounds like just the trick for my neighborhood.

    Paris, because there is nothing hard about her silk thingies

  12. Andy H


  13. Daniel Wilkie


    I hate spiders :(

    Also, GG googles contextual ads -

    Arctic Trip

    We have the perfect escape for you Try one of our voyages! Info online

    No, I don't think I'll be going for your offer thanks, I have no desire to be eaten by a 60 tonne spider.

  14. Big Bear

    David Weber was right!

    They'll come swarming out of their Systems That Must Be Defended in massive commercial engined dreadnoughts and gunboats!! Doomed... DOOMED I TELLS YA!!!!

    Probably find that fleshy human young are just the right size for snacking on too...

    Maybe we can train Penguins in Asymmetrical Warfare to cull them down?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Maybe the military could domesticate these badass beasts. Some great cyber tomfoolery perhaps, mount a chaingun, a Hellfire or two - the ultimate unmanned combat vehicle - if it runs out of ammo, it can devour it's enemies.

    Sounds surprisongly like something out of Command & Conquer Red Alert....

  16. Gianni Straniero


    The stuff of nightmares, and no mistake. By my calculations, you would need a broom approximately 176m tall to shift one of these monsters.

    Our old friend Megarachne, a monster invertebrate 34cm in the body, was reclassified as an eurypteryid rather than an arachnid back in 2005, so the crown of "world's largest spider" is once again up for grabs.

    I propose we train up some of those robo turkeys you found while leafing through your copy of National Geographic this morning. No point in risking fleshies when tackling this menace.

  17. Dave Murray

    @ Bad math

    "The arachnids of the Devonian period got not bigger than 2 meters."

    Ah no problem then, we'll just need to bullseye them from a T-16.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @Bad Math

    Oh - that's ok then. 2 meters is NOTHING to worry about.

  19. Chris Miller

    Biology factoid

    The main reason we don't already have Humvee-sized arthropods is their method of respiration. Rather than lungs, they use a system of long, thin tubes that deliver oxygen to their internal parts. Beyond a certain length, these tubes can't reach the innards without collapsing. Existing large insects and spiders grow about as big as this limit allows; further growth would require the evolution of a different respiration technique.

    Sea-dwelling arthropods are not subject to the same limits, as spider crabs and lobsters demonstrate (not to mention prehistoric 2m water-scorpions).

  20. Dave Gregory

    Cannibal spiders

    You describe them as cannibals. If so, then why not just let them eat one another.

    Problem solved.

  21. Marvin the Martian

    Hm... wee problem

    Will this work out? Don't they exchange gasses via simple book lungs, and are hence limited in size by simple stoichiometric problems?

    If they appear, we all watch Starship Troopers and know how to top em all.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Peace through superior firepower

    Bubba, y'all are gonna need a bigger gun . . .

    No problem, Roy, hold my beer and watch THIS!

    Where's Earl from the "Tremors" movies when you need him? He'll know how to and be able to deal with this ("Cover your ears . . . " KABOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!)

  23. michael
    Thumb Up


    you are my hero

    now take up your anti spider launcher and go get the buggers!!!

  24. A. Lewis


    One more thing to keep me from sleeping!

    I say we take pre-emptive action and exterminate them when they reach, say, a metre long.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    "top arachno-boffin Toke Høye"

    I think someone's being toking a bit too much. Sheer reefer madness.

  26. breakfast Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I blame Melkor

    They may be strong versus bullets but evidence suggests low to mid-level parties of adventurers with a good balance of combat classes and magic users should be able to take them down quickly enough if there is a bit of XP in it for them.

  27. Brian Miller

    Spiders not threat, scientists create arachno-hamsters

    Anybody read the NBC article about the spider silk? Scientists are working to create hamsters and cows which spin spider silk. Now, milking a six-eyed, eight-legged, web-spinning cow for silk just isn't my idea of organic agriculture...

  28. Chris iverson


    Or Doom. Wasn't the final boss a big brain spider with mechanical legs and a chain gun that never ran out of ammo.

    Perhaps we should send some marines to deal with them before they get to that point.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    A perfect excuse to upgrade from the .50 cal Barrett to a 20mm Lahti, methinks.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Old Ladies

    My guess is that an old lady would have to swallow a pretty large fly to feel justified in sticking one of these down her throat.

    ...and think of the size of the bird that she'd need to swallow to catch the spider!

  31. Thomas Swann
    Black Helicopters

    I say we take off

    ...and nuke the site from orbit.

    It's the only way to be sure.

  32. Edward Miles


    ...But think of the advances in Weaponry in that same 50 year period! sholder launched nukes anyone?

    Or maybe I'll just jump on its back, machine gun a hole in its armour and throw a HE grenade in. :D

  33. Anonymous John

    All you need it a 15ft tall bath

    They'd never climb out of that.

  34. Neil

    Wrong metric?

    Surely the annual growth is not the point? The point is actually the increase in warmth to get it that 10% bigger. So by the time they'd all reached that size we'd pretty much have all died from being roasted to death anyway.

    Still made me laugh though!

  35. Bad Beaver

    Here's a tip:

    Aim for the nerve stem, and put it down for good.

  36. Lankydude

    I think I see how this all ends up...

    According to the referenced article on msnbc,

    "It’s even been said that a strand of spider silk the width of a pencil could stop a Boeing 747 in flight."

    So not only will be be awash with gigantic, un-killable, flesh-molesting arachnids, we'll be bombarded by falling trans-oceanic jumbo jets knocked from the sky by the anal projections of our new hairy overlords. Perfect! I blame the scientists.

    Mine's the one with the hard-hat and directions to the nearest bomb shelter in the pocket.

  37. James O'Shea

    re Biology factoid

    "The main reason we don't already have Humvee-sized arthropods is their method of respiration. Rather than lungs, they use a system of long, thin tubes that deliver oxygen to their internal parts. Beyond a certain length, these tubes can't reach the innards without collapsing. Existing large insects and spiders grow about as big as this limit allows; further growth would require the evolution of a different respiration technique."

    Errm... not so. _Insects_ and many other arthropods use spiracles, as you describe. Spiders, however, have 'book lungs'. This means that the max size limit is not imposed by problems with breathing, but by the cube-square law. That scales things down a little, but still allows spiders to achieve sizes in the 2 to 3 metre range. Much beyond that and they'll have problems with their exoskeletons in general and their legs in particular. A two or three metre spider would still be somewhat difficult to dispatch with anything this side of a .50 calibre machine gun. Personally I'd go with a flame-thrower, or, better yet, a nice A-10 with a 30-mm Gatling gun and underwing pylons loaded with napalm and cluster munitions.

  38. Paul

    Giant rolled up newspaper

    Duh! Obvious solution to the problem!

  39. Anonymous Coward


    wut lvls I need be to hunt greenlands zones?!? I can go at 2???? Or wuold 3be bettr???? KTHXBAI!!

  40. Kevin


    If I remember right couldn't they just fling talcum powder on them to clog up the pores they use to breath? From what I remember that would kill most of our would be mutant insectian or arachnid overlords.

  41. Big Al

    Easy answer

    Armour be damned - aim for the eye clusters!

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy solution

    We train them to enjoy the taste of refrigerator-sized immortal jellyfish and finally answer the immortal question of which phylum is the hardest.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Why let them get that big?

    By the time they get to the size of the family dog, we should already be dispatching them. Or does everyone else wish to wait until they are as big as Humvees? Wonder if there will be Boone and Crockett scores kept on the larger ones.

  44. Nexox Enigma

    Starship Troopers...

    Seems that plenty of you have seen the movie, but trust me when I tell you the book was better.

    I can't see one, or many, of these spiders posing a threat to a squad of Mobile Infantry. In the book they had some serious combat suits, more Mech Warrior than the rubber helmet things depicted in the movie.

    Plus, in the book their weapons were somewhat effective, and they had many more of them to play with.

    I've always felt that spiders tend to burn rather nicely, so maybe all we need is a strategically placed molotov or flamethrower hit. If you can deliver enough energy to flash boil the innards, then a 26cm thick armored shell would just serve to build up the pressure until you could get a really entertaining explosion. For that we'd probably need some airbourne lasers.

    Then again a shaped charge that can punch through 26cm of rock (seems like that'd be harder than spider) isn't very big at all. I bet you could attach the charge, deto, and ignition mechanism to a decently sized arrow and really give the big game hunters a way to entertain themselves. They all love to pretend they're Rambo.

  45. Wokstation

    But they're squishy on the inside...

    ...the percussive effect of a high-cal rifle on the armour would shirely do a lot of internal damage?

  46. Eric Dennis

    Star Ship Troopers rip off

    I don't think so mate. You've had far too many lagers today, haven't ya?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is a job for the exterminators. A good coating of anything and they would suffocate.

    Large cans of RAID.

    Oh and also --- They don't move around much in the winter.

  48. Joe User

    Giant, meat-eating spiders

    Soon to become a B-grade movie on the SciFi Channel....

  49. Tomislav

    Humwee sized? How about foot sized killer spiders?

    Why is everyone afraid of humwee sized spiders? Those I can see and fight against (or run underground). I am more afraid of an army of one foot long spiders crawling from under every rock. They will reach that size much sooner too...

  50. J

    *** Title

    *** Spider-head trophies are a figure of speech, since a spider actually does not have a head, but a cephalothorax.

  51. LaeMi Qian
    Thumb Up

    Strewth! What a bunch of pommy wimps!

    Here in the land down-under we wrestle things bigger and stroppier than that for light exercise.

    I think we will leave the north to the widdle spidies and just wrestle the buggers that make it across the equator. Serves you lot right!

    Australia - if something cold-blooded isn't trying to kill you, you haven't got there yet!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could get very messy indeed

    Well if you popped one of these suckers with a 50 cal round, the entry wound wouldn't be very big (and I assure you it WILL penetrate quite nicely), but the hydrostatic shock inside the spider will blow an exit wound large enough to drive Wacky Jacqi's ego through without even touching the sides.

    Order in a large supply of blotters to clean up the mess, we'll need them.

    Ah ain't askeerd of no spiders . . .

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Relax, solutions are already in the works

    1) Small parties of D&D players/Society for Creative Anachronism nerds will come from around the world to cull "The Glacier of the Spider Lords"--especially if these arachnids can be looted for the occasional couple of gold pieces or magic cape.

    2) The Reg is being selective about their futurism here. Surely the Reg's military desk knows that by 2060 the current jumbo jet-mounted megawatt lasers will have been perfected to the point that in a certain unnamed North American country you will be able to buy over the counter and without a waiting period your very own constitutionally protected, NRA-supported handheld multi-gigawatt deathray capable of being used for hunting rabbits or eviscerating any wayward ocean liners that ruin your beachfront view. Never fear world, us Yanks have your back!!

    3) Isn't Greenland still part of Denmark, and therefore the EU? I am sure that these arachnids will be found to be non-metric or disrespectful of cultural diversity and then will be buried under a glacier of paperwork from Brussels that makes the Greenland icepack look like a snow cone by comparison.

    (I would like to see one of these bad boys with a seal or polar bear in its mouth though......)

  54. Robert Moore

    It is much worse than you think

    I live on the west coast of Canada. We have Wolf spiders here.

    You forgot to mention that they are poisonous, and aggressive.

  55. Fashtas


    > The arachnids of the Devonian period got not bigger than 2 meters.

    You say that like it is a good thing...

  56. SisterClamp

    Example from Nature

    "Pardosa glacialis are apparently well known for snacking ... (among the females) on insufficiently alert sexual partners." Which is as it should be. Power to the feminist, meat-eating, armoured spiders!

  57. jake Silver badge

    Greenland? Isn't that an island?

    And as an island, when all the ice melts, surly[1] it'll still be an island? No problem!

    On the other hand, seeing as the ice is pressing down on Greenland, as the land rebounds after the ice-melt, the land will rise, thus giving more space for the critters. Unfortunately, it'll be pretty rocky for the first several tens of thousands of years. They will need to forage for food somewhere ... The obvious place to find victuals is the Atlantic Ocean, giving rise to sea-going arachnids, which are close enough to arthropods as makes no nevermind. Last time I checked, arthropods are people-food! On top of that, the boyancy afforded by the salt water will let 'em grow even bigger, thus providing more meat for humans! Again, no problem :-)

    Looks like yet another ElReg scare story ... I might have to cancel my subscription ...

    [1] My sister-in-law's name is Shirley. I don't use that joke out of fear of it miss-firing ;-)

  58. Alan Newbury

    @Evil AC


    Yeah, why can't I have eight legs and six eyes?

  59. Jeffrey Nonken


    I could point out that... um, the physics... naw, it would spoil the fun.

    God save us from big-mouthed pedantic engineers, they're so good at spoiling the jokes. Oh wait, that would be me, never mind.

    I will say that it will probably work to shoot the joints, and hitting their eyes would annoy them at least. If the eyes are that well-armored they wouldn't be able to see. Unless they evolve transparent Kevlar eye caps or something.

    That would be something. Most of the spider die out due to hunting, but not the ones with Kevlar eye caps. Of course the follow-up teams of lawyers suing them for trademark infringement would doubtless do them in.

    See? Even engineers can get goofy with a bit of effort.

  60. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Oh well

    Oh well , thankfully there is no Antarctic variant is there ?

    Or the boys from Oz , will be able to do a "Crocodile Dundee" arm wrestle the beastie to the ground , break of all it's legs and pick it up on their shoulder and take it home to toss it on the barbie with the shrimps and drink a keg of Fosters( a real man's beer not that watered down Bud imitation carbonated lolly water the Belgium rubbish they now sell) whilst waiting for it to cook and invite all the friends from overseas to partake in the resultant feast .

    For after all , if an irate Finn can stop a tank with a simple crowbar the boys from Oz should be able to use their little finger to do the same , should they not ?

  61. TeeCee Gold badge

    Obvious answers.

    We genetically engineer our children to grow to 150 feet tall at around age 5.

    I'd like to see an armoured, Humvee sized spider create a threat once it's had its legs pulled off and been roasted for several hours under an enormous magnifying glass.

    Failing that, I see a market for the 40-tonne, tracked Hoover* equipped with a crevice nozzle.

    *Actually a Dyson may be the better option here. It'd be a shame to miss out on the all the fun to be had watching the buggers being flung around in the cyclonic airflow of the transparent bin.

  62. A.A.Hamilton

    @David Weber was right!

    Don't be daft - assuming for 1 minute that we could somehow attract this carapaced horror completely to the Antarctic, there to be annihilated by unstoppable hordes of suicide Penguins, it would have passed through, and wreaked havoc, on the rest of the world on the way.

    A much better solution is to send somebody (I'll be back....) into the future with a really big ice-maker.

  63. Dave

    Someone had a Liquid lunch

    And an afternoon of watching cheesy 50's B movies.

    And it wasn't even Friday!

  64. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Up

    @ Nexox Enigma

    Yes, the book has its moments, as all Heinlein does. The movie is fun too, but it is a completely different animal.

    Regardless, I seriously doubt I want to perform an orbital drop just to battle these spiders for fun... especially not if my powered suit was red. It has bad implications per se and could easily turn into a... drilling experience.

  65. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Pah. Easy to deal with.

    Place suitably sized bath near spider nest. Return in morning with 80 foot tall whiskey glass and 12 foot wide postcard. Sorted.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Think of the children...

    "Naturally we haven't chosen to use the more realistic 2 per cent per decade figure, as it is boring."

    Even using the more realistic figure, it takes a mere 355 years for the wolf spiders to grow to the size of Humvees.

    Act now and save the children!


  67. Anonymous Coward



    Yes because 2m spiders aren't at all scary :(

  68. Lionel Baden

    We seem to have found a answer

    for the bulletproof turbans

    Just wrap their heads in spiderwebs :D

  69. Anonymous Coward

    All you need is a hobbit

    JRR Tolkien has much to say on the issue of dealing with Humvee sized spiders, and his solution only involves one small hobbit, a sharp knife (Sting), and either a ring of power (to make said hobbit invisible) or the Light of Eärendil (blinding the spiders).

    So you had better hope that the anthropologists examining Homo floresiensis can extract enough DNA to start cloning the little buggers before the spiders get too big.

  70. Dave


    Finally, we find out what those Boeing-based Ray-Guns are actually meant for.

    No wonder they weren't that bothered about the high-speed tracking problems, or the effects of polished metal!

    <- To illustrate the result.

  71. Trinity

    Send for Optimus Prime!

    End of problem ;)

  72. James

    Ride 'em Like Horses

    I think the these spiders should be tamed, then we could use them as eco freindly transport or bio-machines of war... you choose

  73. Daren Nestor

    Oh great

    <quote>...and nuke the site from orbit.

    It's the only way to be sure.</quote>

    Oh, great, then you've got 4m, poisonous, aggressive armoured RADIOACTIVE spiders.

  74. This post has been deleted by its author

  75. kevin biswas

    Slightly exaggerated reporting.....

    I generally appreciate the neutral and profession journalistic culture prevalent at el-reg but in feel that there may have been some slight exaggeration in the reporting of this story, and perhaps some more rigorous fact checking may have been in order. Haruuumph. Maybe I will read it again after my nightly whiskey and pills and see if I can find an IT angle :-)

  76. Robert Hill

    @Steve Craft

    "3) Isn't Greenland still part of Denmark, and therefore the EU? I am sure that these arachnids will be found to be non-metric or disrespectful of cultural diversity and then will be buried under a glacier of paperwork from Brussels that makes the Greenland icepack look like a snow cone by comparison."

    Actually, the problem is that Greenland may be part of the EU, and that will mean that these 2 metre+ sized flesh eating spiders will soon be listed as dis-advantaged, protected species and allowed to roam in the streets with full legal protection..

  77. Dan


    All you people who want to use unsportsmanlike weapons to hunt these spiders sicken me. Anyone who needs more than a Bowie knife and a cap-and-ball revolver doesn't deserve to hunt anything with more than two drumsticks.

  78. skeptical i
    Thumb Up

    Sic Ted Nugent on 'em.

    No gargantuspider is any match for the Mighty Bowhunter and his rumoured reality teevee show.

  79. jake Silver badge

    @skeptical i

    Actually, the Motor City Madman's a conservationist (as are most hunters with a brain, even the extreme right-wing nuts like Ted).

    Think about it ... If we destroy the environment, there will be nothing left to hunt.

    Most people don't know it, but pro-hunting outfits like Ducks Unlimited have done more to preserve habitats of wild animals than any so-called "green" organization, which seem to exist mostly to throw excrement at anyone who doesn't bow to their perception of reality.

    ANYway, Uncle Ted would probably be the first in line to grab a breeding pair (or six) before the anti-critter nutcases managed to wipe 'em all out!

    Disclaimers: I first saw Ted play live when he was still an Amboy Duke, and I personally don't hunt any more ... I don't have anything against hunting, I just choose not to. I'm also not a wing-nut, right or left ... I generally call myself a realist.

  80. Steve Swann


    ...we need bigger f***ing guns!

    ...That's not big enough.... *ponder* ... That's not big enough either...

    Aha! THAT'S f***ing big enough; I'll take two.

  81. Joris Lambrecht


    Guys, don't write while your IN the pub. It keeps you from chasing that single picture, delivering the RAW footage of such an arachnide and most importantly extrapolations made using Photoshop.

    Carry on now!

  82. Justin Thyme


    So you're telling us that in 2070 or thereabouts, Greenland will be...


  83. Jon Tocker

    The backwoodsman of the future:

    ... wearing coonskin cap, buckskin clothes, reptile-skin boots and driving an armoured SUV made from a hollowed-out wolf spider carapace...

  84. Gregory J. Neumann
    Black Helicopters

    @Domestication ...

    YESS!! 6 (count 'em SIX!) LASER EYES!! And I thought laser-eyed bears were cool. We train 'em to spin arachnoceramic (what a great term!) armor for their riders. When they die, we just use the high-green-tech shells as strong points / houses like in Morrowind. Perfect for anti-black-helicopter opps. This is a win-win deal ... um except for the odd arachnophobe.

  85. C

    I love the smell of Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders in the morning!

    Wait till some of those critters figure out how to get to other continents.

    I guess humanity won't have to worry about overpopulating the planet after all!

  86. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Humvee sized spiders?

    Well then, wouldn't the obvious solution to this problem be to make our humvees bigger so we can squish the humvee-sized spider with our Liebherr-T282-sized Humvees?

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