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Andrew Smith's Tarantula Spider Lectures

For thirty years Andrew Smith has travelled the world in search of tarantula spiders. During this time he has also worked in most of the major museum and archive collections, examining and drawing the type material and accessing the diaries and papers of the great theraphosid spider collectors and arachnologists. The end result of which, are two major reference books and numerous scientific papers. This is why Andrew Smith's lectures are so special - they are more than just a talk about spiders - they are about the history of natural history as Andrew doggedly follows in the footsteps of many of the original Victorian collectors in their search for tarantula spiders.

He is a very experienced lecturer, with an international reputation having lectured in France, Belgium, Germany, India, Sri Lanka and the USA. In the UK he delivers the annual after dinner lecture at the British Tarantula Society February Lectures.

Andrew, takes into the field, each year, a small team of very experienced collectors (see Paul Carpenter and the very best photographic equipment - all of which, ensures that the spiders are not only found but that the resulting images are absolutely first class. This means that over thirty years, Andrew has built up one of the finest collections of tarantula photographs in the world and thus he can guarantee that his lectures contain field photographs, not pet shop spiders photographed in a tank.

In fact, it has been often said by reviewers that many of Andrew's photographs are some of the finest images taken of tarantula spiders in their original habitats.

If you find that hard to believe we suggest you order - Andrew Smith's DVD lecture: In search of Red Leg Tarantulas in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Price £10. Send a cheque to Fitzgerald Publishing: 89 Ermine Road, London SE13 7JJ. This documentary will give you an excellent idea of what to expect from Andrew when he comes to talk to your society.

At present Andrew offers the following one and a half hour lectures (two hours if you wish) and we promise that you will be thoroughly entertained. Note: Lecture 1. Ghana - is a PowerPoint lecture. Lectures 2,3,4,5 are all slide lectures and Andrew will bring his own Kodak Carousel Projector to these occasions. From 2010 all new lectures will be PowerPoint.

(1) Collecting arboreal tarantulas and spider folklore in West Africa - This exciting Powerpoint lecture traces the first spider collectors on the Gold Coast in 1700, to the heyday of arthropod collecting in the late nineteenth century. Discussed are lesser known aspects of the trade triangle - slaves, sugar and biological specimens for Europe's curiosity cabinets and embryonic museums. That and, of course, the challenging task of finding tarantula spiders in a rapidly vanishing environment.

(2) The Great Indian Poecilotheria tiger spider - The Kuvi Puchi, Bagh Makvas or Kali Spider. Andrew traces not only the history of what is one of the world's most beautiful tarantula spiders but also takes you into the forests of Southern India to find them. This documentary includes not only all of the historical Victorian species described by Reginald Pocock of the British Museum of Natural History but also Andrew's new species P. hanumavalsumica and P. tigrinawesseli. The lecture has a broad sweep and ranges from the spider folklore of the tribal Adivasi peoples to a study of the astonishing body of Victorian engineers, missionaries and army officers who collected tarantulas spiders and contributed to what is one of the greatest collection of specimens in the world, The Natural History Museum - South Kensington.

(3) The Poecilotheria Tiger Spiders or Divimakuwa of Sri Lanka. These beautiful tarantulas were some of the very first to be brought to Europe for display in the 17/18th century Curiosity Cabinets of the wealthy aristocracy and merchant elite. The lecture kicks off with Madam Sibylla Merian, illustrator/collector/importer and supplier of exotic specimens to the likes of Sloane and Seba - celebrates the Victorian collectors and ends with the research of more recent field workers such as Peter Kirk and the conservationist Chaminda Kekulandala.

(4) Collecting Tarantula Spiders in Costa Rica - following in the footsteps of Berthold Seemann and Carlos Valerio. Andrew begins the lecture with the golden spider artefacts of pre-Spanish Central America. He then tells the fascinating story of the Royal Navy Survey ship H.M Herold, its ships naturalist, Berthold Seemann, tarantulas found, and the subsequent vandalism, drunkenness and deception at the Natural History Museum - culminating in the dismissal of one of the leading naturalists of the period. More tarantula spiders and their collectors are then unearthed before Andrew follows in the footsteps of Costa Rica's greatest arachnologist Carlos Valerio. A jolly evening of death, sex, tarantulas and scandal!

(5) Collecting the Brachypelma tarantulas of the Pacific Coast of Mexico - following in the footsteps of Berthold Seemann and Herbert Huntingdon Smith. The beautiful red leg tarantulas of Mexico are some of the most outstanding spiders in the world and Andrew tells their story as only Andrew can! Folklore and history are recounted as Andrew and his team scour the Sierra Madre Mountains in search of some of the world's most wonderful tarantula spiders.

Andrew is a professional lecturer and writer who is a Research Associate of the Natural History Museum, Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and Chairman of the British Tarantula Society. He is the author of the academic reference works: The Tarantula Classification & Identification Guide, Baboon Spiders: Theraphosid Spiders of Africa and the Middle East and Tarantula Spiders of the USA and Mexico. Out of print, the latter now sells for $800+ second hand! His new book Tarantula Spiders, Gods and Arachnologists is in preparation. For further details

Prices: UK - £150/£200 depending on distance. Accommodation is expected if the distance is not readily commutable - that evening, back to London. Local societies in the South London, Kent region are negotiable.

If abroad - the cost of a 1½ or 2 hour lecture is £300 plus flight, accommodation and full board. An additional lecture is complementary if so wished.