Erik Korsten in the Netherlands made this video.
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
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.
This video shows a cross spider catching a prey.
Frans Beuming in the Netherlands made this video.
From Sci-News.com in the USA:
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
This video is about a Heteropoda davidbowie spider feeding.
From The Star in Malaysia:
Monday, 11 January 2016 | MYT 11:58 PM
The spider is distinguished by its large size and yellow hair.
Bowie was selected for the honour because of his musical contribution to [the ] arachnid world – the 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Jager said that naming spiders after celebrities drew attention to the near extinct species whose habitats are being destroyed due to human activity.
This music video is called David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust, taken from ‘Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)’.
This is a ladybird spider video from Turkey.
By Peter Frost in Britain:
Strictly not for arachnophobes
Friday 15th January 2016
One of Britain’s rarest and most colourful spiders the Ladybird spider (Eresus sandaliatus) was thought to be extinct in Britain for over 70 years, until a tiny population was rediscovered on a tiny patch of land, barely 50 yards square, in Dorset in 1980.
Since then no other populations have been detected. It is believed to have once been found in Cornwall and the Isle of Wight but no more.
The spider gets its name from the bright red body of the male decorated with four large ladybird-like spots. The male body is 6-9 mm long excluding legs. The male’s legs are bright black with white stripes. The female is larger, 10-16 mm excluding legs and totally velvety black. She rarely leaves her nest. Young spiders too are velvety black.
The species lives in burrows with silk trip-wires covered with dense fluffy threads that radiate outwards to catch their prey, which includes large insects like devil’s coach horse and violet ground beetles.
The male only emerges for two weeks in May to breed. Having found a burrow containing a female he plucks at the trip wires in a way that distinguishes him from prey. This protects him from becoming a meal.
After mating, the female lays up to 80 eggs in a cocoon in her burrow during the summer and guards them until the spiderlings hatch in July or August.
She feeds them on regurgitated food and finally, rather ungratefully, the young spiders eat their own mother. Females only breed once.
The spiderlings disperse to make their own burrows in the following April, and take three or four years to reach breeding age.
The Ladybird spider is still so endangered in Britain that it has been possible to count each individual spider in Dorset, the only place it has managed to keep a small but determined eight-legged foothold.
The spider can only live on lowland heathland — and this is its main problem. Our native heathland has suffered drastic decline over the last century, being ploughed up for agriculture and forestry, or built over.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve at Arne, just four miles from Wareham, Dorset, is a great place to see avocets and little egrets but it is just as important for its preservation of the native heathland in its original form and, of course, the Ladybird spider.
The Ladybird spider’s long life-cycle, very specific requirements and the fact that it is not good at colonising new sites have all added to its vulnerability.
When it was first rediscovered in 1980, the last remaining site supported just seven individual spiders, but successful habitat management has resulted in the population expanding to its current level of nearly a thousand individuals.
Over the last five years other colonies have been established on Dorset heathland. Spiders have been carefully released onto new sites — increasing their populations in Dorset from one to eight. But there is still a lot of work to do.
For a start conservation charities like the RSPB want to establish at least 20 Ladybird spider populations in the wild.
If this spider is to thrive we need to continue the programme of releasing spiders onto new sites and to monitor existing populations to ensure that they are healthy and doing well. The habitat needs to be managed to ensure that the sites remain in the right condition for the spider.
In 2011, it was first released onto the RSPB’s Arne reserve. Surveys here carried out this year show that the spiders are doing well and are now expanding outside of the original release areas.
During the original translocation, scientists used an ingenious low-tech method of transferring the spiders. They used recycled empty plastic mineral water bottles which are an ideal shape and size for the spiders to make their nests in.
The bottles are filled with heather and moss and captured spiders from the donor site placed inside and monitored while they settled in and made a web. The bottles were then buried in holes in the ground offering some protection but allowing the spiders to venture out to colonise adjacent areas.
Toby Branston, RSPB Dorset reserve ecology manager told us: “It’s great to see this incredible little spider doing well in its new home. The hard work has started to pay off. Searches this year have found five new webs away from the release sites as well as others in their original bottle-homes. A great sign that the spiders are feeling settled here at Arne.”