Tarantulas mating, video


This 12 January 2018 video says about itself:

Tarantula Mating – Wild Patagonia – BBC Earth

For Tarantulas, finding a mate can be a deadly task – especially when you’ve only got two months left to live.

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18 new spider species discovered in Madagascar


This video says about itself:

7 March 2014

Pelican spiders hunt other spiders, plucking at their webs to lure the prey closer and then using long necks and jaws to hold them at a distance. Read more at sciencenews.org.

From the Smithsonian in the USA:

Spider eat spider: Scientists discover 18 new spider-hunting pelican spiders in Madagascar

Discovery highlights the case for conserving a shrinking, unique biodiversity hotspot

January 11, 2018

Summary: Scientists examined and analyzed hundreds of pelican spiders both in the field in Madagascar and through study of pelican spiders preserved in museum collections. Their analysis sorted the spiders studied into 26 different species — 18 of which have never before been described. The new species add to scientists’ understanding of Madagascar’s renowned biodiversity, and will help scientists investigate how pelican spiders’ unusual traits have evolved and diversified over time.

In 1854, a curious-looking spider was found preserved in 50 million-year-old amber. With an elongated neck-like structure and long mouthparts that protruded from the “head” like an angled beak, the arachnid bore a striking resemblance to a tiny pelican. A few decades later when living pelican spiders were discovered in Madagascar, arachnologists learned that their behavior is as unusual as their appearance, but because these spiders live in remote parts of the world they remained largely unstudied — until recently.

At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, curator of arachnids and myriapods Hannah Wood has examined and analyzed hundreds of pelican spiders both in the field in Madagascar and through study of pelican spiders preserved in museum collections. Her analysis, focused on spiders of the Eriauchenius and Madagascarchaea genera, sorted the spiders she studied into 26 different species — 18 of which have never before been described. Wood and colleague Nikolaj Scharff of the University of Copenhagen describe all 26 pelican spider species in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Zookeys.

Wood says pelican spiders are well known among arachnologists not only for their unusual appearance, but also for the way they use their long “necks” and jaw-like mouthparts to prey on other spiders. “These spiders attest to the unique biology that diversified in Madagascar“, she said.

Pelican spiders are active hunters, prowling the forest at night and following long silk draglines that lead them to their spider prey. When a pelican spider finds a victim, it swiftly reaches out and impales it on its long, fang-tipped “jaws,” or chelicerae. Then it holds the capture away from its body, keeping itself safe from potential counterattacks, until the victim dies.

Today’s pelican spiders are “living fossils,” Wood says — remarkably similar to species found preserved in the fossil record from as long as 165 million years ago. Because the living spiders were found after their ancestors had been uncovered in the fossil record and presumed extinct, they can be considered a “Lazarus” taxon. In addition to Madagascar, modern-day pelican spiders have been found in South Africa and Australia — a distribution pattern that suggests their ancestors were dispersed to these landmasses when the Earth’s supercontinent Pangaea began to break up around 175 million years ago.

Madagascar is home to vast numbers of plant and animal species that exist only on the island, but until recently, only a few species of pelican spiders had been documented there. In 2000, the California Academy of Sciences launched a massive arthropod inventory in Madagascar, collecting spiders, insects and other invertebrates from all over the island.

Wood used those collections, along with specimens from other museums and spiders that she collected during her own field work in Madagascar, to conduct her study. Her detailed observations and measurements of hundreds of specimens led to the identification of 18 new species — but Wood says there are almost certainly more to be discovered. As field workers continue to collect specimens across Madagascar, “I think there’s going to be a lot more species that haven’t yet been described or documented,” she said.

The spiders Wood personally collected, including holotypes (the exemplar specimens) for several of the new species, will join the U.S. National Entomological Collection at the Smithsonian, the second-largest insect collection in the world, where they will be preserved and accessible for further research by scientists across the globe.

All of the pelican spiders that Wood described live only in Madagascar, an island whose tremendous biodiversity is currently threatened by widespread deforestation. The new species add to scientists’ understanding of that biodiversity, and will help Wood investigate how pelican spiders’ unusual traits have evolved and diversified over time. They also highlight the case for conserving what remains of Madagascar‘s forests and the biodiversity they contain, she says.

Funding for this study was provided by the Danish National Research Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

New marine spider species named after Bob Marley


This reggae music video is called High tide or low tideBob Marley (lyrics in ESPAÑOL/ENGLISH).

From ScienceDaily:

New species of marine spider emerges at low tide to remind scientists of Bob Marley

December 23, 2017

It was 02:00h on 11 January 2009 when the sea along the coastline of Australia’s “Sunshine State” of Queensland receded to such an extent that it exposed a population of water-adapted spiders. The observant researchers who would later describe these spiders as a species new to science, were quick to associate their emergence with reggae legend Bob Marley and his song “High Tide or Low Tide.”

This video says about itself:

23 December 2017

Desis bobmarleyi: New underwater spider species named after Bob Marley builds air chambers from silk.

A new species of semi-aquatic spider has been discovered scuttling over corals exposed by the receding tides on an Australian beach.

The spider has been named Desis bobmarleyi in honour of the legendary reggae musician and his song “High tide or low tide”, by the scientists who discovered it.

Desis bobmarleyi belongs to a family of marine spiders with special behaviours that allow them to survive submersion in water.

They seem to have adapted to an underwater lifestyle by hiding in air-filled pockets in rock cavities, shells and seaweed.

The ScienceDaily article continues:

In their paper, published in the open access journal Evolutionary Systematics, the team of Drs. Barbara Baehr, Robert Raven and Danilo Harms, affiliated with Queensland Museum and the University of Hamburg, describe the new Bob Marley‘s intertidal spider and also provide new information on two of its previously known, yet understudied, relatives from Samoa and Western Australia.

Unlike the spiders which people are familiar with, the intertidal species, whose representative is Bob Marley‘s namesake, are truly marine. They have adapted to the underwater life by hiding in barnacle shells, corals or kelp holdfast during high tide. To breathe, they build air chambers from silk. Once the sea water recedes, though, they are out and about hunting small invertebrates that roam the surfaces of the nearby rocks, corals and plants.

The new species, listed under the scientific name of Desis bobmarleyi, is described based on male and female specimens spotted and collected from brain coral on that night in January.

Both sexes are characterised by predominantly red-brown colours, while their legs are orange-brown and covered with a dense layer of long, thin and dark grey hair-like structures. The females appear to be larger in size with the studied specimen measuring nearly 9 mm, whereas the male was about 6 mm long.

While the exact distribution range of the newly described species remains unknown, it is currently recorded from the intertidal zones of the Great Barrier Reef on the north-eastern coast of Queensland.

“The song ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ promotes love and friendship through all struggles of life,” explain the authors for their curious choice of a name. “It is his music that aided a field trip to Port Douglas in coastal Queensland, Australia, to collect spiders with a highly unique biology.”

Apart from reporting their research, the scientists use their paper to pay tribute to a German naturalist from the late 19th century — Amalie Dietrich, as well as the famous Jamaican singer and songwriter. Both admirable figures, even if representative of very different fields, are seen by the authors as examples of “the adventurous and resilient at heart” human nature in pursuit of freedom and independence.

Australian redback spiders


This video says about itself:

15 December 2017

On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote finds Australia’s infamous Redback Spider!

Well known as Australia’s counterpart to North America’s Black Widow these super toxic spiders are responsible for over 10,000 spider bites a year! However are they more dangerous than a Black Widow?! Get ready to find out!

Mother spider protects eggs


This 17 October 2017 video shows a female wasp spider making a golf ball size cocoon to protect her eggs. A cocoon may contain hundreds of eggs.

Marijke Scheffer from the Netherlands made this video.

Spider and fly, video


This 3 October 2017 video shows a cellar spider trying to wrap silk around a hoverfly.

Rob Bruijnen in the Netherlands made this video.

New Caribbean spider named after Bernie Sanders


This 27 September 2017 video from the USA is called New spider species named after Obamas, DiCaprio.

From the University of Vermont in the USA:

Discovery: Bernie Sanders spider

September 26, 2017

A scientist at the University of Vermont and four of his undergraduate students have discovered 15 new species of “smiley-faced” spiders — and named them after, among others, David Attenborough, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

You won’t find them in Washington, DC, Hollywood, or Vermont — but on Caribbean islands and other southern spots you might now get a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S. michelleobamaae, and S. berniesandersi as well as S. davidbowiei and S. leonardodicaprioi.

“This was an undergraduate research project,” says Ingi Agnarsson, a spider expert and professor of biology at UVM who led the new study. “In naming these spiders, the students and I wanted to honor people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change — leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world.”

The study was published September 26 in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Why Bernie?

Until now, the beautiful, yellow, smiley-faced spiders in the genus Spintharus — named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens — has been thought to have one widespread species “from northern North America down to northern Brazil,” Agnarsson says.

However, when a research team from the Caribbean Biogeography Project (“CarBio”) — spearheaded by Agnarsson and Greta Binford at Lewis & Clark College — examined spiders from Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, Florida, South Carolina, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia — they discovered that one widespread species was actually many endemic species. Using CarBio genetic work, and the Vermont students’ painstaking photography and lab work, the team — with support from the National Science Foundation — was able to identify and formally describe fifteen new species. “And if we keep looking, we’re sure there are more,” Agnarsson said.

Each student who helped describe the spiders also got to name a few of them — and some were named for beloved family members, “but we all named the Bernie Sanders spider”, says Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project, and who graduated from UVM last year. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

“That spider species will be named after Bernie forever,” says Ben Chomitz, another of the student researchers.

“Our time on this earth is limited,” says Lily Sargeant. “But I think that ideas are not that way. It is my hope that through naming that spider after Bernie we can remember the ideas that he has at this pivotal point in the life of our nation.”

For student Chloe Van Patten, her naming process goes back to what she calls a high school “obsession” with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “I’m over my crush, but now that he’s involved in environmental issues, I love him even more. So I named a spider after him hoping that if he read our study,” says the recent UVM graduate, “he might go out to dinner with me and talk about climate change.”

Conservation concerns

The Caribbean region has long been known to scientists as a major global hotspot for biological diversity. The leading spider expert on the Spintharus genus in earlier decades, Herbert W. Levi (1921-2014), had concluded that differences he observed in these spiders across a wide swath of geography represented variation within one species. But newer molecular techniques deployed by the project’s leaders, Agnarsson and Binford, show otherwise. “These are cryptic species,” Agnarsson says. “As Dr. Levi’s work clearly showed, they’re hard to tell apart by looking at them.” But the DNA data are clear: these spiders have not been interbreeding — exchanging genes — for millions of years.

“Thoughts about conservation change dramatically when you go from having a common, widespread species to an endemic on, say, Jamaica that has very specific conservation needs,” Agnarsson says.

“All the sudden we have fifteen-fold increase in diversity in this particular group — just because we did a detailed study,” says Agnarsson. “That tells us something about biodiversity in general. The more we look, the more we discover.” Conservation biology, the team notes, fundamentally depends on good taxonomy, since preserving one widespread species is a radically different task than protecting the precise habitat of a genetically isolated, local species.

The Vermont students saw their lab work in a broad cultural light. “I’m a second-generation American and I’m black,” says Lily Sargeant. “It is through a diversity of perspectives that we achieve innovation in science and I appreciate how much the Obamas value diversity.”

“Here’s the thing,” says UVM scientist Ingi Agnarsson, “we need to understand and protect biodiversity in its many forms, and we felt compelled to recognize leaders that understand this.”