Piotr Naskrecki, a Harvard researcher, was recently crucified online for killing the puppy-sized spider he found while walking through a rainforest in Guyana at night. Naskrecki reportedly killed the spider, which was a South American Goliath birdeater, and brought it back to a museum for study. His blog post about the incident sparked a firestorm of criticism on the Internet.
Naskrecki’s Facebook page has been inundated with hateful comments because he killed the spider. He even received a death threat for his actions, but Naskrecki maintains that it was part of his job to do it. “We usually bring these substances that are designed to put them down very gently,” he said of the chemicals he used to neutralize the spider.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 29, 2014
The researcher responded to negative comments about him online with a blog post titled, “Involuntary Bioslaughter and Why a Spider is Dead”. In it, Naskrecki explained that he was in Guyana to catch specimens for the Center for the Study of Biological Diversity at the University of Guyana.
“Collecting and preservation of physical specimens is an integral, irreplaceable element of biological sciences. There is hardly a branch of biology that does not rely on the examination of organisms’ bodies… be it for the purpose of their identification, understanding of the functions of their respiratory system, or the speed of transmission of neural signals,” Naskrecki wrote. He added that because the birdeater was the largest spider in the world, it was the “perfect specimen to teach spider morphology.” Naskrecki also claimed that the species was not protected nor endangered, so his actions were not a threat to the species’ survival.
According to the Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology, where Naskrecki works, the spider can weigh up to six ounces. Its name is apparently misleading as the spider doesn’t eat birds, but prefers to hunt for worms, rats and other small animals.