While it was officially described in a 2012 publication of the British Tarantula Society, it was first uncovered in 2009 by a local villager, who brought the body of a dead P. rajaei to Ranil Nanayakkara, the co-founder of the Sri Lankan Biodiversity Education and Research organization.
The spider has a leg span of up to 20 centimetres (8 in), has vivid yellow and gray piping on the first and fourth legs with a pink abdominal band. It prefers to live in old-growth trees, but is considered rare due to deforestation in its war-torn habitat and has taken to living in old buildings. The venom of P. rajaei is not lethal to humans but can kill small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes. It is not yet known exactly how rare the newly discovered tarantula is, but there is some concern that habitat destruction is causing their number to dwindle.
The species was named for Michael Rajakumar Purajah, the local police inspector who guided the research team while they searched for living specimens.
- Nanayakkara, RP; Kirk, PJ; Dayananda, SK; Vishvanath, N; Kusuminda, TGT (2012). "A new species of tiger spider, genus Poecilotheria, from northern Sri Lanka". British Tarantula Society Journal 28 (1): 6–15.
- "New Giant Tarantula Discovered in Sri Lanka". Wired.com. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- "Spiders as big as your face discovered in Sri Lanka". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
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