10 Amazing, Beautiful, TERRIFYING Spiders

European Tarantula
The European tarantula is in great demand whenver Hollywood needs a dangerous-looking arachnid. © Rainer Holz/Corbis

Lycosa tarantula, also known as the European tarantula, is a pretty scary-looking guy. Though mainly found in southern Europe, this hairy creature, whose body can be as long as 1.2 inches (3 centimeters), is in great demand in Hollywood [source: Burke Museum]. Special-effects people cast it whenever there's a script calling for a venomous spider to menace a hero or grow to enormous size and terrorize a town.

But looks can be deceiving. While it is true that Lycosa tarantula is capable of biting a human, its venom has a very low toxicity, and less fearful individuals may actually keep them as pets. However, you can get a minor skin rash or eye-and-nose inflammation from handling one, so be sure to wash your face and hands afterward. Further, Lycosa tarantula has been found to be not a tarantula (Theraphosidae) at all, but actually belongs to the family of wolf spiders (Lycosidae) [source: Burke Museum].