The suborder of spiders known as mygalomorphae, comprise the so called tarantula spiders;a misnomer as there is only one true tarantula spider and it is a small member of the Alopecosa(tarentula), of which are several similar species. One of which was renown for biting people working in the field in Switzerland and Italy. If bitten by these small spiders people would traditionally dance the tarantella which sweated out the venom. The spider became a legend and after some people thought that the large bird eating spiders of tropical places must be this dangerous spider. well the so called bird eating spiders are not that dangerous and for their large size are some of the least venomous of all spiders. Mygalamorphs are actually primitive spiders in that they retain certain traits of other arachnids such as scorpions and harvesters by having two simple eyes and forward moving jaws(chelicerae),and two pairs of book lungs instead of one pair in more modern species. In northern Europe there are three representatives of this group.They belong to the genus of Atypus. Atypus affinis lives in Britain.
This is a male. The females are much larger especially the older specimens. they could possibly live for up to ten or exceptionally, twenty years of age, similar to most other members of the family. They are common on chalk downlands, or in this case lowland heath.Colonies can be very large. They are funnel web spiders and live in a long tube lined with special silk just below the ground surface, often around ant mounds.