Any of approximately 38,000 predatory arachnid species, mostly terrestrial, in the order Araneida, abundant worldwide except in Antarctica. Spiders have two main body parts, eight legs, two pincerlike venomous appendages, and three pairs of spinnerets. Species range in length from 0.5 to about 90 mm (0.02 to 3.5 inches). The venom of a few species (e.g., brown recluse) is harmful to humans. Most species catch insect prey in a web of silk extruded from the spinnerets. Spiders change little during growth, except in size. Species are classified largely on the basis of the number and arrangement of eyes and the type of web. See also black widow; tarantula; wolf spider.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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