A spider in a tourist’s skin has been making headlines, but is it a hoax or simply a strange case of misidentification? Some experts claim there’s something about the story that just doesn’t seem right, and they have come forward to set the record straight on whether one unlucky tourist’s skin could have been invaded by a spider via an old surgical scar.
Here’s what 21-year-old Dylan Thomas, from Bunbury, Western Australia, said happened during a recent trip to Bali, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Thomas discovered a mysterious red trail leading from an old appendectomy scar near his navel up toward his chest during a vacation with friends. He visited a local doctor at Bali International Medical Centre who told him that he had been bitten by an insect. The doctor prescribed antihistamine cream for the young man and sent him on his way.
Things only got worse despite the antihistamine cream. The red line on the man’s chest and stomach began to blister. This time, he went to see a dermatologist. That’s when the doctor reportedly removed a spider from the tourist’s skin and placed it into a medical specimen jar for further investigation, or so the story goes, but did it really happen? Maybe. However, if it did happen, it probably wasn’t a spider at all.
According to io9, expert opinion demonstrates that the creature in the tourist’s skin couldn’t have been a spider. Why not? For one, spiders don’t burrow under the skin, of tourists or anyone else for that matter. Mites are a different story, Christopher Buddle, associate professor at McGill University’s Department of Natural Resource Sciences, told io9.
“I think this is extremely suspect, unusual, and likely not possible. Simply put: it is not plausible and I can think of no valid reason why a spider might ‘crawl beneath skin through a scar.’ The claim that it was ‘feeding and moving up through the scar tissue’ defies logic and defies what we know about the biology of spiders. I am also sceptical because the ‘evidence’ (the spider itself) is not presented…. Other arthropods (e.g., ticks/mites/perhaps some insects) could ‘possibly’ be ‘associated’ with something like this… perhaps… But certainly not a spider.”
Buddle is not the only one having trouble coming to terms with the idea of a live spider in a tourist’s skin. Marie Herberstein is Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University in New South Wales. She hasn’t outright denied the possibility that Thomas fell victim to a burrowing spider, Pop Herald reported, but the idea flies against her knowledge of typical spider biology. On the other hand, she agreed that a mite could be to blame for the horrifying incident, although she is reserving judgement for such time as the crawly critter is positively identified.
“My initial reaction is that this is a mite (also 8-legged) rather than a spider, and mites are renowned for this type of behaviour, such as in scabies. Let’s see what the identification brings.”
The presence of a live spider burrowing beneath the tourist’s skin would only be plausible, reported Pop Herald, if “there’s a new species that is a parasitic spider.” Spiders don’t breathe in the same way as animals, but they do require oxygen to survive. Without access to oxygen, it seems implausible that an arachnid could survive for three days beneath a man’s skin (although spiders can survive days without oxygen, so it’s not impossible).
What do you think? Do you believe there was a spider in the tourist’s skin, or is there another explanation for his red, blistered rash? Comments are welcome.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]