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Tarantulas



Tarantulas
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.98

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cobalt, funnel-web, goliath, leg-span, red-legged, striking, tarantella, tarantism, pinpoint, hence, originally, ambush, various, accuracy, definition, arm-like
     content words:    South America


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Tarantulas   

1     At first, the word "tarantula" was the name of a specific species of wolf spiders called the Lycosa tarantula. People were scared of this spider. They believed (for no good reason) that it spread a disease called "tarantism." The illness was thought to be caused by the Lycosa tarantula's bites. The illness was first recorded in medical journals in southern Europe in the 14th century. According to local beliefs, the only cure was to dance to certain music for days or even weeks. The dance was called the tarantella.
 
2     Nowadays, the word "tarantula” includes members of several different spider families. In fact, there are more than 850 different species of tarantulas.
 
3     Tarantulas like to hunt at night. Though they have up to eight eyes on the top of their heads, they cannot see very well. But thanks to the sensitive hairs on their bodies and legs, they can ambush a victim in the dark with deadly precision. When hungry, tarantulas wait patiently for an unsuspecting animal to come near their hideouts. Once within a striking range, tarantulas launch a surprise attack! They seize the prey with their arm-like appendages (or pedipalps) near their jaws. Then they bite and inject venom into it. Then, they secrete digestive juices onto the doomed victim. The juices turn it to a cup of soup!

Paragraphs 4 to 5:
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