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In Congo folklore, the jba fofi or j'ba fofi (Baka: "giant spider"), also known as the Congolese giant spider, is a creature said to exist in the Congo, possibly representing a new species of arachnid. Popular interest in the creature was sparked by the TV series Monster Quest in 2008. Although best known for sightings within Africa, purported giant spiders have been reported worldwide.
The creature is most famously known as the jba fofi, the name that Baka tribespeople in the Congo have called the giant arachnids that reportedly reside by their dwellings. The name means "great spider" in their language.
Although giant spider sightings have taken place since the late 19th century, the recent surge in interest began with the episode on Monsterquest followed by the publication of William Gibbon's book. The researcher was familiar with the sighting by Reginald Lloyd of an enormous spider in Zimbabwe in 1938, and while speaking to Baka natives about the mokele-mbembe he asked them if they had ever seen such a creature. They were familiar with a similar beast that they called the jba fofi, and gave a like description.
Description and habitat
The Baka said that the jba fofi of the Congo would spin a web between two trees which they utilized to capture birds, duiker, and other small game animals. Their eggs were the size of peanuts, and juveniles were yellowish with purple abdomens. When they matured they would turn brown, and were four to five feet in length. The Baka said that they were strong enough to overpower humans, and that they would kill a jba fofi if it made its nest too close to the village. The spiders are described by Baka natives as weaving lairs made of leaves and spinning a circular web between two trees. The Baka told Gibbons that these spiders are now rare due to dwindling habitat. Descriptions of giant spider sightings elsewhere bear a similar resemblance, with some variance in color.
Missionary Arthur Simes from England was on an expedition to a village near Lake Nyasa when several of his porters became ensnared by a huge web that had been strung up in the forest. They were then attacked by several large spiders that had a leg span of four feet and were bitten.
1938: DR Congo
Reginald and Margurite Lloyd were driving a Ford truck through a trail when they reportedly spotted a spider as large as a large jungle cat. It resembled a light brown tarantula, but had an estimated leg-span of 5 feet. After briefly pausing in front of their vehicle it scurried off into the jungle. Liam Christopher and his brother Jenner Edwards and their daughters Sally and Maurgurite Lloyd, would later relate this story in the 1990s to William Gibbons. 
1942: Papua, New Guinea
During the Kokoda Track Campaign, an Australian soldier at the Kokoda Trail said that he encountered a puppy-sized spider inhabiting a 30 foot sized web. It was described as being black with a bulky body, as well as hairy like a tarantula.
British cinematographer Richard Terry travelled to the Amazon to investigate reports of giant spiders in the June 13th episode of Man v. Monster. At a remote village, he was informed that giant spiders lived in holes deep within the jungle. These spiders measured roughly four feet in diameter.
There is speculation that sightings - either the jba fofi or giant spiders elsewhere are actually misidentifications of coconut crabs, which is the largest terrestrial crab and can grow to over 3 feet. An argument against the existence of the jba fofi is the fact that spiders have a simple respiratory system that limits the size that they can achieve, with the Goliath birdeater representing the highest end of the growth spectrum for an arachnid. Another contrary viewpoint is that a spider's exoskeleton could not support the weight generated by a creature the size of the jba fofi.
- William J. Gibbons (2010). Mokele-Mbembe Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin. Coachwhip Publications. pp. 158–159. ISBN 1-61646-010-5.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- George M. Eberhart (2013). Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology - Volume 1. cfz. p. 204. ISBN 978-1909488076.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Jamie Frater (2014). Listverse.com's Epic Book of Mind-Boggling Lists: Unbelievable Facts and Astounding Trivia on Movies, Music, Crime, Celebrities, History, and More. Ulysses Press. p. 138. ISBN 9781612432977.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Karl Shuker; Jonathan Downes; Janet Bord (2007). Extraordinary Animals Revisited. Cfz.
- Jamie Frater (2014). Listverse.com's Epic Book of Mind-Boggling Lists: Unbelievable Facts and Astounding Trivia on Movies, Music, Crime, Celebrities, History, and More. Ulysses Press. ISBN 9781612432977.
- Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey (August 9, 2010). "Fact or Fiction? Giant Spiders in Africa...and USA". English.pravda.ru.
- About Man V Monster Show - National Geographic Channel - UK
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