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Rare spider found in London 'one of largest in UK'

The orb weaver spider Meta bourneti was found in Highgate Cemetery, north London. Credit: PA

A rare spider spanning 30mm has been found living in a London cemetery.

The London Wildlife Trust discovered the the orb weaver spider Meta bournet in the famous Highgate Cemetery, the final resting place for philosopher Karl Marx, poet Christina Rossetti and novelist George Eliot, among others.

Conservationists conducting a bat survey spotted the spider in the cemetery's Victorian tombs, which provide the total darkness required by the species.

It is the first time the species has been recorded in London and the trust said it is possible that the population of spiders have lived there undetected for at least 150 years.

Tony Canning, from London Wildlife Trust, said: "The discovery of this important spider population in the heart of London shows just how valuable cemeteries such as Highgate can be in providing refuges for wildlife."