Sunday, February 5, 2012

(Super) Spider Sunday!

Let's get this show back on the road. I shall start with your favorite topic and mine, spiders!

Well, it's my favorite, anyway.

If I haven't plugged it recently, you all need to get on Google+. It's growing into an awesome place to hang out (pun intended, for Plussers). It's especially good depending on your interests. I'll always troll the internet for science stories, but there are some awesome (and active) experts on G+ in fields ranging from astronomy to entomology. (There's also boring stuff like technology, but who cares about that when you can catch up on the latest in solar flares and spider penises?) And Flickr will retain it's place in my heart, but G+ is great for photography too, from amateur to pro, and the discussions there are fantastic.

Another great thing about my time on Google+ is that I've come to co-curate a weekly spider photography theme, Spider Sunday! (I mentioned it when I last posted, about a million years ago.)

In keeping with the theme, I'm going to start a new Spider Sunday feature to share the latest freaky/cool spider news, articles, pictures, and things I read when I should be working cutting-edge research. Enjoy!

Milking a what?!
Passed onto me by BJ, among others. I can't imagine why anyone would think of me when reading this story. On milking silk from black widow spiders (the spiders, while probably not too pleased, are not harmed) for potential human benefit. Origially posted, fittingly, in the r/WTF subreddit.

It takes (away) balls to mate, if you're a spider.
Well, more like palps. But it certainly takes some figurative balls to self-castrate just to maximize your procreative chances (since you are likely to be eaten before you're, um, finished). You probably thought I was joking about spider penises. Nope. "Spiders dodge cannibalism through remote copulation." Written by Google Plusser and science writer extraordinaire Ed Yong, and a nice double whammy on my husband, who was less than thrilled to find an article about both spiders AND snapping off one's genitals on the computer in place of his football scores.

Spider webs strengthened by local sacrifices
Spiderwebs are strong buggers. Just try stumbling into one. Here's a nice article on the resilient properties of the silk and webs, that keep damage localized. Materials scientists, civil engineers, and biologists are all studying the incredible little builders. It's almost enough to make me interested in the boring practical field of engineering. Read more on the resiliency of spider silk here and here.

What a black widow does when she's agitated
Well, before biting, hopefully. I can confirm this. When mine really gets going, her web is like a little upside-down trampoline. So adorable! (No? Not adorable? Come on!)

Spiders jump with deadly accuracy in green light
I've seen this one around for a few days now. Really cool experiment and conclusion on how jumping spiders use what's called image defocus, aided by a green-pigment layer in their retina, to nail the distance to their prey. Now I know when that jumping spider landed on my face, it was on purpose.

That's it for now. Share more spider stories, links, and other coolness in the comments if you have 'em, and if you have spider photos, head to Google+ and join in the Spidery Sunday fun. Anyone can watch the Superbowl. It takes balls (or, you know, a detached palp or two) to love spiders.


Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

I think I've invented the perfect word for you. Ewsome.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

@Leslie, I love it. My husband would agree with the ew part, at least.

Thérèse said... Best Blogger Tips

They look so cute on your blog!

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

@Thérèse: Thank you! I do think they're pretty adorable.