Seven new peacock spider species discovered in Australia


This video says about itself:

2 May 2016

Maratus splendens, a species of peacock spider that can be found in moister habitats in the southeast corner of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria) but has been reported also from Western Australia.

This spider was named in 1896 but no further individuals were noted in the literature until I rediscovered this species in 2009 and David Hill and I reported on it in Peckhamia 89.1. As far as I am aware this is the only footage ever published of this spider.

Maratus splendens is one of the smaller species of Maratus, about 3 mm in length. Its “target” pattern is similar to that of Maratus pavonis, but both species can be easily distinguished. The most conspicuous difference is the presence of a silvery black area on the “head” in Maratus splendens which Maratus pavonis lacks.

For still images of this spider, including some that show its size, see my flickr collection.

Music credit: birds, crickets and frogs of the Sydney suburb of St. Ives.

If you want to learn more about peacock spiders I have bad news, there is no book about them. However, you may find my facebook page sufficiently interesting and entertaining.

Otto, J. C. and D. E. Hill. 2016. Seven new peacock spiders from Western Australia and South Australia (Araneae: Salticidae: Euophryini: Maratus). Peckhamia 141.1: 1-101: here.

Rare species of Dutch Veluwe region


This is a video about a strawberry spider.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Many rare plants and animals in the Veluwe

by Maino Remmers

The carrion beetle, the true lover’s knot moth, the Alcon Blue butterfly and certainly the wart-biter: all rare animals to be found plentifully in Hoge Veluwe National Park. The biodiversity is many times higher than expected. Plant and animal species which worldwide are on the red list are doing well in this central Dutch park. …

Ranger Henk Ruseler says that even species are found which were thought to no longer occur in our country. “The strawberry spider is said to be very rare, but it was during the last count found in various places,” he says.

During the annual census by volunteers … reptiles, butterflies and unusual mosses were also found.

29 species of dragonflies

Ruseler drives the pickup through a stream which originates from the ice age. Just around the stream are 29 different species of dragonflies and damselflies.

Surinamese Anansi stories, now part of Dutch heritage


This video from Jamaica says about itself:

Anansi and the Pot of Beans

19 October 2006

Anansi loves his grandma’s beans.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Stories about spider Anansi on heritage list

Today, 02:27

The stories about the spider Anansi are from now on recognized on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands. This Caribbean storytelling tradition has its roots in slavery.

The Anansi stories have been told for centuries in West Africa. The slave trade spread them to Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The postwar migration brought them also to the Netherlands.

The Knowledge Centre of Intangible Heritage says the stories have a positive connotation, despite the dark past. They “contribute to strengthening the awareness and pride in heritage and culture.”

Dutch as frogs

The main character is a savvy spider which likes to fool other animals. Anansi is an ambivalent figure, a trickster, who also regularly harms his own wife or children.

In the days of slavery the narrators could also use the stories to embarrass the plantation owners. Dutch did not realize they were ridiculed in the fairy tales as frogs.

The stories were formerly told from parent to child, but now also through theater, schools and libraries. One of the most famous books about Anansi was written by the Surinamese former President Johan Ferrier.

Exotic

The Anansi stories are an exotic addition to the heritage list, because nearly all have a European origin …

Of the 93 traditions 6 have a multicultural background, like the Surinamese koto and angisa costumes and tambú drums from the Antilles.

The non-Western traditions in the list:

Indies rijsttafel: Indonesia
Maroon culture: Suriname
Anansi: Suriname
Angisa and koto clothes: Suriname
Henna art: Turkey, Morocco
Tambú: Antilles

The addition of the Anansi stories to the heritage list will be celebrated today at the new Anansi tree in the Open Air Museum in Arnhem. Twenty storytellers will keep the stories alive for the visitors the coming time.

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Power of Stories – Performance Wijnand Stomp (official trailer English)

1 October 2014

Theatre maker Wijnand Stomp and documentary maker Jean Hellwig present a stand-up storytelling show for people from 10 to 110 years old. In a mix of theatre, comedy and documentary they bring the audience in a cheerful way in contact with stories about the history of slavery.

The flamboyant Mister Anansi (Wijnand Stomp) sits on his porch in what he calls his “Anansi Tree”. From the branches hang old shoes. The window of his house is a television. It reveals in mini documentaries the special encounters during his journey along the Transatlantic triangle of the slave trade: Zeeland – Ghana – St. Eustatius. Mister Anansi tells about the new stories he created and his energetic Aunt Jewel drops by for a game of domino. With her hilarious First National Slavery Quiz she confronts the audience in a humorous way with the traces of slavery, under the motto ‘Hats off to slavery’.

In The Power of Stories Stomp and Hellwig weave a web of slavery in the Netherlands with personal stories from overseas. At the end of the show Mister Anansi lets his audience in notes write about their personal links with slavery. He keeps these stories in the shoes on his Anansi tree and lets the wind take them traveling.

SUITABLE for theaters, festivals, schools, libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

Wolf spider video


This video is about the Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata wolf spider. Males of this species drum with their bodies on old fallen leaves to attract females.

Erik Korsten in the Netherlands made this video.

305 million-year-old spider relative discovered


This video says about itself:

The ancient creature that was ‘nearly a spider’

30 March 2016

The ancient creature that was ‘nearly a spider’: 305-million-year-old arachnid had similar legs and jaw but couldn’t spin a web.

Spiders predate the dinosaurs, scurrying along 315 million years ago – but their precise origins remain a mystery.

Now scientists believe they have filled a ‘gap’ in the evolutionary story of arachnids, with the discovery of a fossil that’s the closest relative to spiders ever discovered.

The creature, dubbed Idmonarachne brasieri, measured less than one inch long and lived alongside the oldest known ancestors of modern spiders 305 million years ago.

From NPR in the USA:

305 Million-Year-Old Fossil A Glimpse Into The Origins Of Spiders

March 30, 20166:53 PM ET

Merrit Kennedy

Scientists have discovered a well-preserved 305 million-year-old arachnid that is “almost a spider” in France. In a new journal article, they say the fossil sheds some light on the origins of “true” spiders.

The main point of distinction: This newly discovered arachnid very likely could produce silk but lacked the spinnerets used by true spiders to, well, spin it, the scientists say. The researchers say it belongs to a “sister group” to the real-deal spiders.

The species, which they described in a new article in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is named Idmonarachne brasieri. That’s after Idmon, the father of Arachne in Greco-Roman mythology. Appropriately, Arachne was a master weaver who was transformed into a spider.

The paper says Idmonarachne “does not fit comfortably into the established orders.” National Geographic reports that it “acts as a bridge between early spider-like creatures brewing up blobs of silk and the skilled weavers that we see today.”

Here’s more from National Geographic on the comparatively clumsy beginnings of spiderly silk production:

“While delicately constructed webs seem synonymous with spiders, we know from the fossil record that the ability to secrete silk came before the ability to carefully control it. Spider relatives called uraraneids, which lived from 385 million years ago through the time of Idmonarachne, could produce silk but could not build webs.”

University of Manchester’s Russell Garwood, who was one of the article’s authors, told the BBC, “This fossil is the most closely related thing we have to a spider that isn’t a spider.”

The specimen was found in a deposit in Montceau-les-Mines in France and then included in what the article’s co-author described as a “box of fossils” borrowed by the University of Kansas, as the BBC reported. It had been sitting there for decades — the BBC says the box came from Paris’ Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in the 1980s.

The scientists used laboratory and synchrotron scans of the fossil to produce digital 3-D imagery of Idmonarachne. The arachnid predated the first appearance of the dinosaurs by some 80 million years.

Cross spider catches prey, video


This video shows a cross spider catching a prey.

Frans Beuming in the Netherlands made this video.

New tarantula species named after singer Johnny Cash


Aphonopelma johnnycashi. Image credit: Hamilton C.A. et al.

From Sci-News.com in the USA:

Aphonopelma johnnycashi: Newfound Tarantula Species Named after Johnny Cash

Feb 5, 2016 by Enrico de Lazaro

A team of researchers, directed by Dr. Chris Hamilton of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, has discovered a previously unknown species of tarantula that lives in the plains and foothills of the western Sierra Nevada Mountains, the United States, and named it after the famed American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author Johnny Cash.

The newly-discovered species, Aphonopelma johnnycashi, has a distribution running along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and can be found inhabiting the following regions: Sierra Nevada, Central California Foothills and Coastal Mountains, and Central California Valley.

“The specific epithet, johnnycashi, is in honor of the country music legend, Johnny Cash,” Dr. Hamilton and co-authors explained in a paper in the journal ZooKeys.

“This species can be found near the area of Folsom Prison in California (famous for Cash’s song ‘Folsom Prison Blues’), and like Cash’s distinctive style of dress, where he was referred to as ‘the man in black’, mature males of this species are generally black in color.”

The breeding season of Aphonopelma johnnycashi, when mature males abandon their burrows in search of females, occurs during the fall (generally September-November).

“More than 50 different species of tarantulas had been previously reported from the United States, but that many of them were poorly defined and actually belonged to the same species,” Dr. Hamilton said.

To gain a better understanding of the diversity and distributions of these spiders, he and his colleagues spent more than a decade searching for tarantulas throughout scorching deserts, frigid mountains, and other locations in the American Southwest.

The team studied nearly 3,000 specimens, undertaking the most comprehensive taxonomic study ever performed on a group of tarantulas.

Because most species of tarantula in the United States are very similar in appearance and cannot be distinguished from each other using anatomical features alone, the researchers implemented a modern approach to taxonomy by employing anatomical, behavioral, distributional, and genetic data.

Their results indicate there are 29 species in the United States, among which Aphonopelma johnnycashi and 13 other species are new to science.

This music video from the USA says about itself:

Johnny Cash – Man in black with lyrics

Recorded February 16, 1971; Nashville, Tennessee