Tag archives for Spiders
Small spiders are just as good at spinning webs as large ones. But why is that? Scientists point to the fact that tiny spiders have relatively giant brains! They’re so big, in fact, that their brains spill into their bodies–even into their legs! The smaller the spider, the larger its brain is relative to the rest of its body. Scientists think that web-spinning might be one reason for spiders to have such large brains.
Photograph by Don Johnston, All Canada/Getty Images
Tarantulas shoot silk from spigots in their feet like Spider-Man and are able to keep their balance and stick to whatever they are walking on. Scientist Claire Rind of the University of Newcastle examined tarantula feet under a powerful microscope and found silk-producing spigots mixed in with the tarantula’s regular hairs. She also saw silk coming out of the spigots. Rind studied three kinds of tarantulas: the Chilean rose, the Indian ornamental, and the Mexican flame-kneed tarantula.
If you could squirt sticky silk out of your feet, what would you climb?
Photograph courtesy Claire Rind
Did you know that there is a spider than spins a web large enough to span a river? Well, the female Darwin’s bark spider can and it spins the world’s biggest and strongest spider webs, as seen in the photo above.
This newly documented species isn’t especially large compared to its web–the spider’s body is about smaller than .8 inch long (2 centimeters), not including legs.
See more pictures on National Geographic News.
Watch a video of a jumping spider stalking lunch on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph courtesy Matjaz Kuntner
Nephila komaci is the world’s largest web-spinning spider. Or at least the female is! Her legspan can be as big as five inches (12 centimeters) wide. The males, however, is less than a quarter of the female’s size. Males have legspans that are only one inch wide (2.5 centimeters). There are bigger spiders on the planet (think tarantulas like the goliath birdeater), but they don’t spin webs.
Nephila komaci is a member of the golden orb-weaver family. All of these spiders are known to spin very big webs. They can be up to three feet (one meter) wide! The spider’s habitat is limited–it lives in small areas in Madagascar and South Africa. Although the spider was first identified at a museum in 2000, scientists didn’t know if it still existed in the wild until a field survey in 2007.
Read more about Nephila komaci on National Geographic News.
Put together puzzles featuring spiders on National Geographic Kids.
Get the facts on tarantulas in the Creature Feature.
Photograph by Robert L. Curry
Did you know that there are more than 40,000 species of spiders, but only one species is known to be vegetarian? The jumping spider is named Bagheera kiplingi after the character of Bagheera the panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Bagheera kiplingi lives in Mexico and Costa Rica and eats the buds that grow on acacia plants. Ferocious acacia ants live in the acacia’s hollow thorns and defend the plants from intruders such as Bagheera kiplingi. The spider must leap from thorn to thorn to collect its food while avoiding the ants, according to Christopher Meehan the biologist who led the study. “It is utterly surreal to see a spider use such effective hunting strategies to hunt a plant,” he added.
Read more about this plant-loving spider on National Geographic News.
Put together puzzles featuring spiders on National Geographic Kids.
Watch a video of a jumping spider on National Geographic Kids.
While we were at the Posada Amazonas lodge in the Amazon, we saw many cool creatures, from monkeys to birds to capybaras. My favorite animals to see (although it was pretty hard to choose a favorite) were the many species of insects and arachnids found on every tree, always amazing. I saw a scorpion (thank you for pointing that one out, Elliot), many spiders, some moth larvae, some centipedes, and many, many snails. Snails were in trees, on leaves, on flowers, everywhere! The mosquitoes, on the other hand, were, should I say, annoying, but because of the rain, we didn’t see too many for a few days. Speaking of creepy-crawlies, we were offered to try termites, a food source for those who have run out of supplies. I…tried some. It tasted a little weird, but if you didn’t think about it, you could eat them without difficulty.
Don’t get me wrong, the birds and mammals were spectacular as well! We saw some grey titi monkeys and we saw and HEARD some howler monkeys. The titi monkeys were adorable; I wanted to hold one! We also saw some gorgeous scarlet macaws. They were like the birds you see in movies, only better! We saw them fly by; flashes of yellow, blue, and red darted across the sky as we took the boat back to dry land. They were flying to the clay licks, where they eat the red-brown earth to help with digestion. I don’t know how that helps, but I’ll do my best to find out. The guides were amazing! They could just say, without another thought, “That’s definitely a green violetear, a type of hummingbird.” Just like that! Wow! The insects were still one of the chart toppers.
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Staying in the jungle for three days was like going to the best summer camp in the world. One side of our room was open to the trees, and it had a hammock in it! My favorite thing at the lodge in Puerto Maldonado, however, was the canopy tower. Standing 120 feet tall, it towered above the trees.
Scientists in Denmark wondered if global warming could make Greenland’s wolf spiders bigger. During a ten-year study, they tracked spider sizes. In years when spring came 30 days earlier than usual, some spiders grew exoskeletons that were thicker than average, resulting in bigger bodies! In colder winters, spiders grew thinner exoskeletons. What’s more, during warmer springs female spiders grew larger than the male spiders did.
Photograph by Tom Uhlman/AP
As the Earth’s temperature warms, bigger spiders could become the norm. Researchers aren’t sure why warmer temperatures mean bigger wolf spiders. It could be because their prime hunting season is longer. Or perhaps longer summers allow the spiders to molt–shed their old exoskeletons–more often, letting grow bigger during their lifetimes. The study’s co-author, Toke Høye, is pretty sure that bigger spiders will also mean MORE spiders, because larger female wolf spiders have more offspring than smaller ones.
Read more about this spider study on National Geographic News.
Watch a jumping spider video on National Geographic Kids.
Some creepy-looking and yet amazing new species have been found in the Greater Mekong River area in Southeast Asia! Among the most eerie creatures among the 1,068 finds are a pink millipede that can shoot cyanide, and what is probably the world’s largest spider–it boasts a legspan of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters). Check out pictures of these spectacular creatures on National Geographic News.
Want more wild Mekong river creatures? Visit the Megafishes gallery.