Great Spider

Date of Discovery

First discovered in the 1890s, the Great Spider has been sighted as recently as 2014. The first sighting of the J’ba Fofi by a western observer was in the 1980s near Lake Nyasa when British missionary Arthur John Simes and his men stumbled upon one of the creatures. Having gotten themselves tangled in the enormous web, a male and female spider came out of their tunnel and attacked them. Despite being bitten, Simes managed to escape after shooting one of them with a pistol, but afterward exhibited symptoms that suggested he was poisoned—paleness, chills, and swelling around the bite. These symptoms worsened, Simes became delirious, before falling unconscious and ultimately succumbing to his wounds and dying.

Name

Giant Spider
Photography by Andre Tan

The Great Spider is also known as J’ba Fofi, or the Congolese Giant Spider.

Physical Description

The Great Spider is known to be a spider-like cryptid, but much larger than the average house spider.

Origin

This giant arachnid can be found in the Congo, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the state of Louisiana, as well as Zimbabwe.

Mythology and Lore

Said to inhabit the forests of the Congo, it is suspected to represent a new species of arachnid—behaviorally speaking it is classified as a burrowing spider, digging shallow tunnels under tree roots and camouflaging it with large screens of leaves. Their webs are said to be nearly invisible when stretched between their burrow and a neighboring tree, which act as a network of trip lines and alert the spider when new prey is in the immediate area. This type of behavior is said to be reminiscent of a trapdoor spider, which leads investigators to believe that it really is just a new, unclassified species of trapdoor spider.

Natives to the area say that the J’ba Fofi lays pale yellow eggs, then the hatchlings are bright yellow with a purple abdomen, but as they mature, their coloration deepens, darkens, and browns. Many natives actually suggest that these giant spiders have always been in existence, that their prevalence used to be in much greater number, but they have since become more of a rarity. That encroachment of civilization has driven the spiders from their natural habitats.

A far more believed account, again by western sources, was in a book dedicated to cryptozoology by George Eberhart, where he relates the experiences of an English couple traveling through a region of the jungle in the Congo. He says that “R. K. Lloyd and his wife were motoring in the Belgium Congo in 1938 when they saw a large object crossing the trail in front of them. At first, they thought it was a cat or a monkey, but they soon realized it was a spider with legs nearly 3 feet (in length).”

William J. Gibbons, a cryptozoologist and naturalist believed he was hunting what was called the Congolese dinosaur, or Mokele-mbembe, when he came across natives who told him of their experience with the J’ba Fofi, in his narrative he said that “on this third expedition to Equatorial Africa, I took the opportunity to inquire if the pygmies new of such a giant spider, and indeed they did! They speak of the J’ba Fofi, which is a “giant” or “great spider.” They describe a spider that is generally brown in color with a purple mark on the abdomen. They grow to quite an enormous size with a leg span of at least five feet. The giant arachnids weave together a lair made of leaves similar in shape to a traditional pygmy hut and spin a circular web (said to be very strong) between two trees with a strand stretched across a game trail.”



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Grootslang

Date of Discovery

The first records of the Grootslang come from a rock painting in a South African province which has yet to be dated correctly. The first sightings started around 1867 and continued to multiple through the last 1890s. In 1963 newspapers began reporting the sightings sending locals into a frenzy.

Name

Grootslang, Grote Slang, “Great Serpent”, Kayman, Ki-man, !Koo-be-eng

Grootslang Painting - Big Snake

Physical Description

This giant snake is described as being 20 – 39 feet in length with a neck 8 – 10 feet long, and its head is 7 – 8 inches wide. It some tales its body is completely snake-like; however, in others, the body takes on a hippo or elephant-like shape with a long snake-like tail. Its skin or scales are pitch black from head to tail.

Origin

The origin of this legendary cyrtid snake comes from the African regions, most notoriously a deep cave in Richtersveld, South Africa. This creature has also made its way to treading water in the Orange River of the North Eastern Cape Province, as well as the Vaal Dam of Free State Province. It has even been said they dwell in the deep pits of the Congo.

Mythology & Lore

According to legend, the Grootslang is as old as the world itself crafted by the gods themselves in the early time’s creation. This giant primordial creature would prove to be a terrible mistake, as they filled it with tremendous strength, cunning, and intellect. The gods tried to split their creature into two smaller animals, elephants and the first snakes, but one of the original Grootslang escaped the gods. Hiding in the cave known as the “Water Hole” or “Bottomless Pit” it continued to live and breed creating more of its kind. It would lure elephants into the cave to feed itself and little ones.

According to the local legends living in the deep caves of Africa is what drives this great serpent to covet gems and diamonds. This lust of the gems curves the creature’s cruelty and dark nature leaving a bargaining room for its victims to gain freedom from certain death. In 1917 while searching for treasure in the Richtersveld, South Africa English businessman Peter Grayson and his party were attacked and disappeared. Locals blamed the Grootslang for claim yet again another victim from the lions and coveting the riches the party was rumored to have found.

Most of the other significant sightings report the creature attacking from the deep waters of rivers with few people surviving the encounters. Some gave details of a large wave rushing toward them or their boats before swallowing them down into the water. Other reports like Frederick Cornell’s in 1910 say the creature emerged from the wave raising its massive head 12 feet into the air before attacking them.

Many people have tried to rationalize possible explanations for the numerous reports of slightly different creatures. One being a large rock python, another water monitor lizard, or even an unknown species of monitor. Some have even claimed this is could be the same longneck seal that people mistake Nessie and other lake monsters for. Though some of these are good theories none have been proven leaving locals to go on fearing the dreaded Grootslang and its greedy need for the beautiful gem’s African lands hold.

 

Modern Pop-Culture References
Books & Literature



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