Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spider Sunday 6-10-12

Today, some beautiful videos.
World's Biggest Spider: A new video on the Goliath tarantula (Theraphosa blondi) describes its fierceness but is refreshingly un-scaremongery: "Perhaps knowing the facts about these ancient predators can help turn human fear into fascination." I hope so too, narrator. (P.S. Does that narrator sound like Terri Irwin to anyone else?)

Ogre-Faced Spider vs. Soldier Ant: A fairly recent "Monster Bug Wars" video from The Science Channel's channel on YouTube. Other awesome ones include their video on the redback spider (a relative of Arizona's black widows), the one on the green jumping spider, or most any on that channel. They're a little silly and a lot dramatic, but they're pretty darn cool. And if you really want to see a poor spider really get it, you can always watch this poor huntsman get taken down.

Here, a slightly happier huntsman on my patio. I fed it a cricket.

Spider mom: A cellar spider lays some eggs. Totally not new, but totally, amazingly beautiful. Freaking amazing videography.

A few more spider news items:

To study vampire spiders, build Frankenstein mosquitoes: The jumping spider Evarcha culicivora has a very specific diet -- it feeds on blood, but only by hunting mosquitoes that have recently filled their bellies with mammalian blood. But wait -- how do you check the guts of mosquitoes before attacking them? And what's more, only females feed on blood -- I remember my son and I putting our hands into nets filled with male mosquitoes, and getting covered in insects but not bites. (Which leads me to another question: How do you go about sexing that many mosquitoes? Entomologists are dedicated.) Do the spiders seek out blood-engorged bellies above all else, or do they know to look for females, which have less feathery and elaborate antennae than males? To see how the spiders make the distinction, scientists built Frankensquitoes. Naturally.

Can jumping spiders kill in space? Student's experiment set for orbit: A little bit of an update on the teenage winner of the YouTube Spacelab competition. It's a nice little profile on Amr Mohamed, who shares my spider love but definitely beats me in the initiative department.

Happy Spider Sunday! As always, check out the shots on Spider Sunday on Google+!