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The Spider Named After David Bowie (And It's From Malaysia, Not Mars)


The Heteropoda davidbowie's name comes from its colorful resemblance to early-'70s-era David Bowie's fashion choices. NBCU Photobank/Getty Images/SENCKENBERG RESEARCH INSTITUTE/Peter Jager
The Heteropoda davidbowie's name comes from its colorful resemblance to early-'70s-era David Bowie's fashion choices. NBCU Photobank/Getty Images/SENCKENBERG RESEARCH INSTITUTE/Peter Jager

David Bowie transcended boundaries in many realms: gender, fashion, music, art. And now that he's transcended life itself, passing away on Jan. 10, 2016, at the age of 69, it's worth remembering that the iconic British musician also transcended the confines of the human species.

Well, sort of.

Bowie's the namesake for a species of ferocious-looking spider indigenous to Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. The Heteropoda davidbowie was so named in 2008 by arachnologist Peter J├Ąger, the current head of Arachnology at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

The spider, part of the tropical genus Heteropoda more commonly called the huntsman spider, has bright orange hairs on its red-brown body and legs, and sports vibrant red markings on its underside.

Bowie's hair was equally vibrant in the early '70s during his Ziggy Stardust phase. The backing band for the Ziggy Stardust character was called the Spiders From Mars, and Bowie also kicked off side two of his 1987 album "Never Let Me Down" with the song "Glass Spider."

The body color of the female David Bowie spider can range from gray to red-brown.
The body color of the female David Bowie spider can range from gray to red-brown.
Green Baron Pro/Flickr

The spiders are found primarily on tree bark and leaves in the highlands of the Malaysian peninsula, and have also been spotted in nearby Singapore and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Female Heteropoda davidbowie are the slightly larger sex of the species, and can grow up to 1 inch (2.53 centimeters) long.

Eager for more? Cue up your favorite Bowie album and check out the video below for more on the Bowie-inspired spider, as well as some of its other relatives.



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