Wait A Sec, A Spider Crawled Under A Guy's Skin And Lived There For 3 Days?

As the story goes: an Australia man's vacation to Bali took a horrifying turn after he discovered a painful red line forming above his belly button. What was first thought to be an insect bite, was actually a spider who crawled into his belly. At least that how the story goes.

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Earlier today on 17 October 2014, the team at SAYS came across a BuzzFeed story, published on 16 October, about how "an Australian tourist's holiday in Bali ended horrifyingly when doctors were forced to pull a tropical spider out of his stomach"

Screenshot of the BuzzFeed story

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The guy's name is Dylan Thomas and he is 21 years old

Screenshot of Dylan's post published on BuzzFeed

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According to the BuzzFeed story, Medical staff at Bali International Medical Center said the spider had burrowed itself into Dylan's skin through a scar from where his appendix had been removed. The 21-year-old, from Bunbury, Western Australia, told NT News he woke up on Saturday morning to find a 2-inch red trail rising up from his stomach.

Scary, right? Well, no, not really. If a iO9 report is to be believed, than it's just not plausible.

Screenshot of the iO9 report

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As the iO9 report notes, it's the kind of story that has a lot of people saying, "heck, no!" and a lot of arachnologists (those who study the science of spiders and related animals) saying simply, "No, that didn't happen"

Thomas may have been told that a spider invaded his flesh, but the arachnologists we spoke to about this story sincerely doubt that one actually did.

Christopher Buddle, associate professor at McGill University's Department of Natural Resource Sciences, told iO9 in an email: "I think this is extremely suspect, unusual, and likely not possible"

"Simply put: it is not plausible and I can think of no valid reason why a spider might 'crawl beneath skin through a scar'. The claim that it was 'feeding and moving up through the scar tissue' defies logic and defies what we know about the biology of spiders. I am also sceptical because the 'evidence' (the spider itself) is not presented."

iO9 also spoke with Dr. Charles E. Griswold, Schlinger Curator of Arachnology (Emeritus) at the California Academy of Sciences

While he said he couldn't comment on this particular incident, he was similarly skeptical, saying: "[I]n general this is impossible and there is no reason that a spider would do that."

So what did the doctors pulled out from Dylan's body? Could it be something other than a spider?

Image via Dylan Thomas

Maybe, but we should wait to hear if more information comes out about the specimen. Buddle told us, "Other arthropods (e.g., ticks/mites/perhaps some insects) could 'possibly' be 'associated' with something like this… perhaps... But certainly not a spider."

Marie Herberstein, Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University in New South Wales, doesn't fully exclude the possibility that this could be a spider, though she writes, "I have never heard of any spider to crawl or exist under the skin or integument of any other creature (there are no parasites amongst spiders)."

But she also suspects it may be a different animal. She told us, "My initial reaction is that this is a mite (also 8-legged) rather than a spider, and mites are renown[ed] for this type of behaviour, such as in scabies. Let's see what the identification brings."

Meanwhile, some four days ago, there was another story about a woman who attributed her frequent nosebleeds to a motorbike crash, but it turned out that the cause was actually a living leech, 3 inches long and poking out of her nostrils

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When the Edinburgh woman began experiencing nosebleeds while traveling for a month in Vietnam, she thought she must have just burst a blood vessel, after falling off a motorcycle. She also would sometimes see something sticking out of her nostril, but figured it was just "congealed blood," according to the Record. Liverani said when she would see the reddish mass hanging out, she "just sniffed him back up.”

Liverani added, “When I was in the shower, he would come right out as far as my bottom lip and I could see him sticking out the bottom of my nose. So when that happened, I jumped out of the shower to look really closely in the mirror and I saw ridges on him. That’s when I realized he was an animal.”

She was rushed to the hospital to have the slimy creature removed

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Hospital staff had to pin Liverani to the bed as they examined her, trying to remove the parasite with forceps. “It was agony,” she said. “Whenever the doctor grabbed him, I could feel the leech tugging at the inside of my nose.” But the doctors were successful, and eventually got the stubborn bugger out.

“[A]ll of a sudden, after half an hour, the pain stopped and the doctor had the leech in the tweezers. He was about as long as my forefinger and as fat as my thumb,” she recalled. Because he was curled in a ball, using her nostril like a nest, Liverani said she and her friend named the leech Mr. Curly. “At one point, I could feel him up at my eyebrow,” she said.
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