This is quite fascinating — a spider that builds fake decoys of larger spiders to scare off potential predators. There have been other decoy-building spiders discovered, but this is the first one to build decoys that even have legs on them. It is likely that this is a new species, though we’ll have to wait for the official verdict. Be sure to see the picture of the decoy at the link!
As if spiders weren’t bad enough, we have spiders that use debris to create spider-shaped decoys to scare away predators! Photo of the species in question’s handiwork:
Just kidding about the spiders being horrible thing, they are essential members of our ecosystems that we rely on for insect control.
Insect control and terrifying dreams.
Weave, Little Man, Weave Like the Wind!
A pretty little time-lapse of a spider spinning a circular web. The spoked concentric rings lend a particular strength to the spider’s web.
Some physical analysis of spider silk from MIT scientists has not only discovered that its molecular structure makes it stronger than steel (pound for pound), but that its flexibility allows it to be both powerful and resilient. Human engineers, take note.
Meet the Peacock spider (Maratus volans) - a species of jumping spider native to eastern Australia. Only 5mm in length, it is only the males that have this bright colouring.
The males also have extensions on their abdomen that can be folded down. They use these to display their colours and markings to females, earning them their name of ‘peacock’. The male will first raise his abdomen, then raise his flaps forming a veritable field of colour. The male will then vibrate his raised legs and tail and dance from one side to another in an attempt to impress the female. [x]
I’ll translate, I speak peacock spider:
A species of harvestman, known colloquially as a daddy longlegs, with a leg-span of over 12 inches has been discovered living in the caves of Laos.
The arachnid was collected by Dr Peter Jager, head of arachnology at the Senckenberg Research Institute, during breaks while filming a television series in Laos’ southern province of Khammouan.
According to Jager, the specimen has yet to be identified to species level. “In attempting to categorise the creature properly, however, and give it a scientific name, I soon reached my limits,” he said in a press release.
this spider with a wingspan larger than the hand of most NBA players.
PUT IT BACK IN THE CAVE.
Crazy Science Jobs #343: Goliath Bird Eating Spider Collector
"… fangs about as long as a cheetah’s claws, and a good deal sharper."
WHY ARE YOU PICKING IT UP WITH YOUR HANDS? It’s a spider, that can eat birds (although it usually doesn’t).
Previously: C.S.J. #342, a completely insane person crawling into an active volcano with 40 mph lava flows.
By the way, these numbers are made up. There is no #1-341.
It’s a technology fit for It-silk Perlman. Japanese scientists have succeeded in harvesting spider silk for violin strings. Could they be an improvement on the gut and nylon used today?
Dr Osaki used 300 female Nephila maculata spiders - one of the species of “golden orb-weavers” renowned for their complex webs - to provide the dragline silk.
For each string, Dr Osaki twisted between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle. The strings were then prepared from three of these bundles twisted together in the opposite direction.
Manyplayers reported that the spider strings had improved tone and a warmer feel. No word on how they plan to get the flies out of their violins. Visit the link above to hear a sample of the new strings!
That’s a whole new meaning to “absentee father”. Put yourself in a scenario. You get to have sex one time, and if you stick around too long you’ll get eaten. You want to make that one time count, and you’d also like to make sure that no one else got the opportunity to reproduce with your chosen lady.
Solution? If you’re an orb-web spider, it appears that breaking off your penis inside of the female and running away is just what Dr. Evolution ordered. It saves his legs, it prevents other males from copulating, and it allows him to fight to protect her. Even if she does want to eat him in the first place. How romantic.
Violent mating behaviors are actually rather common. Hermaphroditic flatworms engage in “penis fencing" to decide who will be the mother and who will be the father of their offspring. Honeybees’ genitals explode and break off inside the queen in a manner similar to the spider. Bedbugs simply impale the female with their penises and deposit sperm through the opening. And banana slugs have such large penises that if they freak out the female with one too large, they risk getting their organ chewed off.
(via Nature News)
Spider silk, and the intricate shapes of webs, demonstrate how knowing when to be soft and when to be rigid is at the core of its many functions: house, hunting tool, transportation aid.
A spider web provides its occupant with a home and a way to catch prey. It needs to stand up to pesky attackers and sometimes withstand hurricane-force winds. Using computer models of spider silk and experiments on the webs of common European garden spiders (Araneus diadematus), Buehler and his team found a web’s unique skills come from its ability to react differently to different stress levels.
A light wind, for instance, softens the web, allowing it to lengthen but retain its overall structure. If a larger force is applied at a specific location, such as when a particular thread is poked, the silk becomes rigid and breaks.
Studying both the patterns of these webs and the molecular nature of what they are made of could aid everything from redundant network design to super-strong reactive materials like bullet-proof fabric.
Previously: Goat’s milk meets spider silk.
(via Wired Science)