Researchers have long puzzled over the size of the largest prehistoric spiders, with some estimates reaching a whopping 10 centimeters across – the biggest specimen ever found. While this may seem huge to modern humans, it’s worth noting that these ancient arachnids weren’t quite as impressive as their living counterparts. However, giant spiders have been around for millions of years and still exist today in certain parts of the world.
To answer this question, let’s look at what we know about these giant spiders from prehistory. Fossils of prehistoric spiders found in Africa indicate that some species reached sizes of more than 5 centimeters in length and had bodies up to 2 inches wide. Scientists estimate that some species were even bigger than this, with a few larger specimens reaching lengths up to 10 centimeters across. This makes them much bigger than modern day spiders like the black widow or tarantula, which usually measure under 3 centimeters in length!
These massive prehistoric arachnids were known as ‘meganeura’ and were first described by Charles Darwin in 1859. Meganeura were part of an extinct group of insects known as “griffinflies” which lived during the Carboniferous period roughly 300 million years ago. It is believed they existed on every continent except Antarctica due to their wide distribution in fossil records collected from all corners of the globe.
Aside from their sheer size, meganeura also had unique characteristics that made them stand out from modern day spiders; they had larger eyes (which could have helped them detect food sources better) and their wings allowed for more efficient flight compared to their spider cousins. They also lacked venom glands and thus probably fed mainly on smaller insects rather than capturing large prey like most living spiders do today.
It is important to note that although meganeura could reach incredibly large sizes up to 10 cm across, most only grew up to 6 cm in diameter which puts them still far behind modern tarantulas– considered the largest living spider species– which can grow up to 30 cm long!
Overall, we can conclude that while meganeura certainly did get pretty big – up to 10 cm across – they were undoubtedly dwarfed by present-day species such as tarantulas who can reach lengths exceeding 30 cm! As a result it is safe to say that while they held our fascination centuries ago and remain a source of mystery today – no spider has been bigger than those found in present day ecosystems!