Relying on our homes for the level of safety they provide, we rarely get to encounter spiders, and when we do, they’re usually harmless. Unlike Frodo, we don’t have to worry about four pairs of hungry eyes pointed at us, but there are people on this planet who might not be this lucky.

However, tribes living in the forests of Congo don’t know about any fictional character, but instead have the advantage (or disadvantage) to sometimes see such a monstrous spider roaming through the jungle. Local tribes know this specimen as J’ba Fofi, the giant Congolese jungle spider, or “the great spider”.

According to locals, these giant arachnids are brown with a purple mark on the abdomen and can reach to enormous proportions, having a leg span of over 5 feet. That’s enough to send us all running away in fear.

Natives tell of how these giants were once a common sighting, but present days have seen a drastic decrease in their numbers.

Intrigued by legends of Mokele-mbembe, a dinosaur-like African creature, renowned naturalist William J. Gibbons recorded:

On this third expedition to Equatorial Africa, I took the opportunity to inquire if the pygmies knew of such a creature [giant spider], and indeed they did! They speak of the J’ba Fofi, which is a “giant” or “great spider.” They described a spider that is generally brown in color with a purple 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.”

There is an estimated number of 7.7 million species of animals living worldwide, with approximately 1 million of these being named and classified. Who knows what other exotic specimens the planet has in store for us?

Giant invertebrates were once a reality. In the past, when the Earth’s atmosphere had a higher concentration of oxygen, arachnids and insects grew much larger. Perhaps some have managed to survive and still hide from persistent human eyes inside the luxurious jungle of Congo, and possibly other out of reach places.

Whatever the case, science remains the only myth debunker available other than seeing the infamous cryptid with our own eyes. Since that’s close to impossible, its role perceived as a viable instrument capable of convincing people of J’ba Fofi’s existence. In this case scenario, it remains only a matter of time until the giant Congolese spider is revealed to the world.