smithsonianlibraries: If you are bitten by a tarantula, you…


If you are bitten by a tarantula, you should:

Scream and try to crush the offending arachnid
with a shoe

Sing a little song, do a little dance

Seek medical attention

Should you happen to be in 16th century Apulia,
Italy, the answer is b (although we recommend a and c!).

This small, handwritten note was found tucked into volume II
of George Shaw’s 1806 General Zoology, and records “The tune which Shaw
says the Apulians make use of to cure the bite of a Tarantula.” Medieval
Apulians believed that the only way to survive a tarantula bite was to dance
wildly and sing, a belief which gave rise to the Tarantella folk dance. While
the Lycosa tarantula is the species to which the song and dance was
addressed, this Avicularia avicularia, featured just after the note in General
, wanted to get in on the fun!

 General Zoology, as well as its handwritten notes,
have been digitized by the @biodivlibrary, and are available here.

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