A harvestman was collected in Laos and recent reexamined. It is a GIANT indeed. This article notes that’s not the only huge species in Laos, a land of great (big) discoveries.
A scientist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt has discovered a harvestman with a leg span of more than 33 centimetres. The creature found during a research trip to Laos is one of the largest representatives of the entire order worldwide. Experts have so far failed to properly identify it to species level.[…] I collected spiders from the caves in the southern province of Khammouan,” the Frankfurt arachnologist explains. In doing so, he made a sensational discovery. “In one of the caves I discovered a harvestman that was absolutely huge.” The leg span of the gigantic male harvestman was more than 33 centimetres and therefore one of the world’s largest.
We non-metric folks in the U.S. just pulled out our units converters and discovered that 33 cm is about…
That is NUTS. Harvestmen are all over the place, and they will obligingly crawl all over you if you pause for a spell while hiking in the woods. They are ecologically a very important predator. But the researchers can’t identify this particular big guy because descriptive taxonomy is no longer the main focus of research funding in this part of Asia. No one has the expertise.
Laos has other arthropods with similar huge dimensions. The article notes — the Laotian huntsman spider Heteropoda maxima with a leg span of up to 30 centimetres, the whip scorpion Typopeltis magnificus with a span of 26 centimetres and the predatory centipede Thereuopoda longicornis with a total span of almost 40 centimetres. YIKES!
All these giant organisms are linked to caves. It could be that caves are a slow-growth environment or some characteristic encourages large size.