Ever hear the one about the royal house spider? Back in 2001, the British press reported that a swarm of venomous spiders invaded the tunnels below Windsor Castle, the countryside residence of England's monarchs. Stories abounded about thousands of the oversized critters — reportedly never before seen, twice as big as an average spider and deadly poisonous — haunting the royals' weekend retreat with jaws and fangs strong enough to puncture human skin.
Those reports were a little inflated, according to Rod Crawford. He explained on the museum's spider myths website that media outlets were misled by uninformed entomologists, professionals who study insects, rather than spiders. Crawford said that once arachnologists (who specialize in the latter creatures) got hold of photos of the Windsor Castle spiders, they quickly identified them as Meta menardi, a type of spider found in dark caves and tunnels throughout Britain and most parts of Europe. "Not rare or endangered or dangerous, and only half as big as claimed," he concluded [source: Crawford].