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|Some more interesting facts from Jeff:
NOTE - Most of these were obtained from unknown
websites. Some however
where taken from " Tarantulas and other Arachnids"
by Samuel D. Marshall,
published by Barron's.
Examination of bite records seems to indicate that
wandering male spiders
have caused the majority of bites to humans. Males,
recognised by the
modified terminal segment of the palp, tend to
wander during the warmer
months of the year looking for receptive females of
their kind for mating.
This leads to the males shorter life span and
Pedipalps of spiders are located between the front
pair of legs and the
fangs, and have the same segmentation as the legs. A
male spider bears
enlarged ends of his pedipalps, the terminal
segments of which are
elaborated into organs for the transfer of sperm to
the sperm receptacles of
Spiders don't rely totally on muscles to move their
legs, they use blood
pressure as well.
It is well known that spiders have multiple eyes,
but not all species are
the same. In fact, the number of eyes range from
eight to zero, most
common spiders have only 6, while some cave dwelling
species have no eyes at
Several families of hunting spiders, such as jumping
spiders and wolf
spiders, have fair to excellent vision. The main
pair of eyes in jumping
spiders even see in color. Net-casting spiders have
lenses that give a wide field of view and gather
available light very
efficiently. However, most spiders that lurk on
flowers, webs, and other
fixed locations waiting for prey tend to have very
poor eyesight; instead
they possess an extreme sensitivity to vibrations,
which aids in prey
capture. Vibration sensitive spiders can sense
vibrations from such various
mediums as the water surface, the soil or their silk
threads. Also changes
in the air pressure can be detected in the search
As far as the most venomous spiders go, many agree
that the Brazilian
Wandering Spider, Widow Spiders, Australian
Funnel-web Spider and the
Recluse Spiders carry very potent vemon. However, no
one agrees over which
is the most deadly.
The fangs of so called "modern" spiders act as
pincers, moving side-to-side,
while tarantulas and funnel-web spiders, considered
to be more primitive
compared to you average household spider, move up
and down. This makes it
harder to hold on to prey.
Tarantulas use their fangs for subduing their prey
and carrying it to their
dens (or to a safe location) for devouring at their
leisure. They don't have
teeth for tearing and chewing their meals so they
juices onto their victim. These digestive juices
break down the soft tissues
so that the spider can slurp up its meal. All that's
left when the spider
has finished its meal is bones, skin, fur and/or
Urticating hairs are one of the primary defense
mechanisms used by some
tarantulas. This term refers to the barbed hairs
that cover the dorsal and
posterior surface of the tarantula's abdomen. Many
tarantula species will frequently kick hairs off their abdomens, directing
them toward potential attackers. These hairs can embed themselves in the
other animal's skin or eyes.
Believe it or not there are people in South America
who eat tarantulas. Many of us in developed countries are repulsed by the
idea of eating insects or spiders, but it actually makes sense if you think
about it. They are the most plentiful living things on earth and they are a
good source of protein.
In arthropods, such as insects, arachnids and
crustaceans, moulting is the shedding of the exoskeleton (which is often called
its shell), typically to let the organism grow. This process is called
ecdysis. Ecdysis is necessary because the exoskeleton is rigid and cannot grow
like skin. The new
exoskeleton is initially soft but hardens after the
moulting of the old exoskeleton.
Along with the complete exoskeleton, spiders shed
their fangs and chelicarae, their throats and stomach lining, female
genital organs, and the linings of the book lungs.
Most araneomorph spiders (orb weavers, huntsman,
etc.) live from one to three years. Mygalomorph spiders (trapdoors,
tarantulas) are generally much longer lived. Some large tarantulas species (Theraphosidae)
take six to eight years to mature and live 20 years or more. A
long life and continuing
moulting and growth allows some of these species to
grow very large - the legs of a large goliath spider (Theraphosa blondi)
may almost span a dinner plate.
The Brazilian wandering spider is an aggressive and
highly venomous spider regarded by some as the most dangerous spider in the
world. The venom of the spider, apart from causing the victim to be in pain
also causes uncomfortable hours-long erections. The venom may
eventually be used in erectile dysfunction treatments.
A fascinating feature of goliath bird-eaters, as
well as some other tarantula species, is their ability to make noise.
We don't normally associate spiders with noise, like we do with dogs,
cats, birds, etc. We are accustomed to seeing spiders silently, stealthily
crawling across walls, floors, and the sidewalk. But when feeling
threatened, the goliath bird-eater is capable of making a pretty loud
hissing noise by rubbing bristles on its legs together. Called stridulation,
it can be loud enough to be heard up to 15 feet away!
A myth states that the cellar spiders, or
daddy-long-legs spiders, are the most venomous spider in the world, but that because
their fangs are unable to penetrate human skin, they are harmless to
humans. However, recent research has shown that pholcid venom has a
relatively weak effect on insects. No similar research has been conducted to
determine its effects on mammalian biology. However, In the MythBusters
episode "Daddy Long-Legs" it was shown that the spider's fangs (0.25mm) could
penetrate human skin (0.1mm) but that only a very mild burning feeling
was felt for a few seconds.
The harmless-to-people Harvestmen (known by the name
"daddy longlegs" or "granddaddy longlegs") are known for their
exceptionally long legs, compared to body size. The difference between harvestmen and
spiders is that in harvestmen the two main body sections (the abdomen
with ten segments and cephalothorax) are nearly joined, so that they
appear to be one oval structure; they also have no venom or silk glands
thus posing absolutely no
danger to humans.
An interesting question: Do Spiders breathe?
Spiders obtain their oxygen through four respiratory organs
located on the underside of their abdomens. These organs are arranged
into two pairs, an anterior pair at the very front end of the abdomen,
and a posterior pair behind the anterior pair. Each of these can take
one of two forms, book lungs or tracheae. In some spiders both pairs are
book lungs, in a few both are tracheae, but in most cases the anterior
pair are book lungs and the posterior pair are tracheae.
Book lungs consist of stacks of between 10 and 80 flattened hollow
discs. These are bathed in haemolymph (the spider's equivalent of
blood), and the shape of the book lung maximises the surface area at
which gaseous exchange can occur. Air enters a hole in the spider's
abdomen called a spiracle and diffuses into the book lungs. Since the
spider's heart is continually pumping deoxygenated haemolymph through
the book lungs, the concentration of oxygen in the air in the book lungs
always higher than in the haemolymph, and therefore oxygen will move
from the air into the haemolymph down an oxygen gradient. The oxygenated
haemolymph is then pumped to the organs where it delivers its oxygen.
Tracheae consist of a system of branching tubes, which extend from the
spiracles to deliver oxygen directly to the organs. It is generally
assumed that there has beena gradual evolutionary change from book lungs
to tracheae, possibly in response to the need to conserve water, since a
great deal can be lost across the large surface area of the book lung.
Although doubts have been raised about whether tracheae could evolve
directly from book lungs, the book lungs of some spiders have a small
number of greatly elongated chambers, and these have been interpreted as
an evolutionary intermediate in the evolution of tracheae from book
Latest from the Courier Mail (24 June 2002):
Goat milk smooth as silk: As comic-book hero Spiderman fills
cinemas with his adventures, prepare to meet an equally astonishing
Scientists have combined the DNA from a goat and spider to create an
animal which produces silk five times stronger than steel. The fibre, from
the goat's milk, harnesses the huge strength, relative to their size, of
silk from spiders.
The silk-milk fibre can be used to make body armour far tougher than
normal bullet-proof vests made from Kevlar while weighing little more than a
cotton shirt. The hybrid goats were created by inserting a gene from an
orb-weaving spider into a goat embryo. The goats are outwardly normal, but
carry the gene responsible for production of a spider silk protein. Each
goat is 1/70,000th spider. Nexia, the Canadian biotech company which
produced the goats, hopes the fibre - dubbed Biosteel - could take a large
chunk of the $2.6 billion market in industrial fibres. It plans to produce
ropes and nets, sporting goods and equipment, fishing lines and surgical
Denise from Kenosha, Wisconsin has found some
more information on Miss Muffett which is really interesting:
Here in Wisconsin we have a Renaissance Faire, set in 16th century England. We are portraying approximately 1574, during the reign of
Elizabeth Tudor. Having worked at the Faire for 10 years now, I was
in playing a character that I could use my spider knowledge with. I knew Little Miss Muffett was a real person and I thought she was from the 16th
century. So I started some research. I came across a book that listed the "Who's Who" of London at the time. In that book I found the Reverend Doctor Thomas
Muffett. It listed his daughter Patience and I was all set to play Little Miss Muffett.
Her father was a family friend to the sea captain Sir Phillip Sidney,
who had very close ties with the Queen. Dr. Muffett wrote several books including a cook book that explained how to use local plants and insects in food as well as medicine. Dr. Muffett
experimented on his daughter by having all the different types of spiders in England bite her to see if she had any reaction. Thankfully there were no
spiders in all of England and there still aren't any today. Dr. Muffett used his daughter in this way because he considered her expendable. Sons can pass on the
family name, but daughters do not, so no harm in using her in this potentially dangerous task. I am sure glad we don't still live in the 16th century today. Dr. Muffet had another friend named Elizabeth Goose. She and her husband ran a publishing company in London. Elizabeth Goose also wrote
children's poems and later
became known as Mother Goose. She wrote the very famous "Little Miss Muffett" that we all know to this day.
Here's an interesting fact sent in from William, whose initials are
WEB so of course he would have an interest in spiders!!
Quite a few years ago, I was putting an addition on my house near Coatesville Pa. I was
nailing down shingles when I noticed a spider on the peak of the roof. The spider was releasing a single strand of web that was blowing in the breeze. When it got
long enough, the spider let go of the roof and took off into the wild blue yonder. I suspect he didn't like the vibrations from the hammering.
Later, when I was living in England, I found a book in the library in Uxbridge and I was looking at a book on spiders. I was interested on how a web is
constructed (my initials are WEB) and in the book I found a reference confirming my observation. Apparently, spiders can travel quite long distances and achieve
very high altitudes using this technique. I imagine that not many of us has had the opportunity to observe such an event.
William E. Brandley
|Here's some spider facts from Mrs Struik's Year 5 at Pialba State
School in Hervey Bay. Isn't it great to find another Year 5 that studies spiders!! Thanks for the contribution Year 5, keep them coming!!
Did you know that Little Miss Muffet was a real girl who lived in England about 2 centuries ago?
Her dad was a doctor who made her swallow crushed-up spiders as this was a cure for the common cold. Shona
Did you know that a jumping spider jump forty times its own body length? Louise
Did you know that no mater how much fly spray you use, you will not kill a
Funnel Web? You will only make it very angry! They also have the capability of holding their breath for 72 hours straight if needed, which makes such sprays
Did you know that there may be 1000 spider eggs in an egg sac the size of a pea? Fern
some from Year 5G:
Did you know that some Tarantula's bites can cause severe local pain that requires hospitalisation and pain killers?
Did you know that when the tarantula is upset it will pull hair from its abdomen and throw it at its prey.
Did you know that Cave spiders usually spin their webs within the first few metres of a caves entrance where there are still insects to
Did you know that the Brazilian wandering spider holds the record as the most venomous spider in the World.
Did you know that spiders can amputate their own legs. New but shorter legs appear at the next moult.
Did you know that
Trap Door spiders shut themselves in burrows to protect themselves from their enemies?
The Funnel Web spider hunts at night.
Did you know that Crab spiders (so called because they scurry sideways like crabs) are often the same colour as flower petals?
Did you know that a spider's thread is stronger than the same thickness of steel?
Did you know that a Sydney Funnel Web can survive in water for a few hours. They may seem dead to you but they can revive quickly.
|Did you know that the Tarantula was a name given to a small spider in Italy.
The biggest Tarantula ever was a Goliath Spider and was 7.5cm in length. Its leg span was 28cm. (Thanks to Corey)
The "tarantule" is the name of a dance.
Did you know that the Red Back spider has been successfully bred in large numbers at the London Zoo, where males have been mated many
Did you know that most male Black Widow spiders have 2 red dots on each side of their abdomen.
Did you know that the female Wolf spider's hairs on their abdomen have special knobs for the young to hold on to when they are getting a
piggy back from their mothers.
Did you know that the bite of some large spiders can be painful but the smaller spiders can not pinch the skin hard enough to get in. Some
female spiders are so much bigger than the males that they sometimes eat their mates.
Did you know that the greatest predator of the Wolf spider is the hunting wasp.
The Wolf spider stalks its prey like a wild dog or wolf hence its name.
Did you know that in seven years if you get bitten by a Wolf spider, you could have no arm left because the wound from its bite eats a
centimetre of skin every month and there is NO medicine for the bite. Not all bites cause this reaction, some have been recorded from Black House spiders as
Did you know the male spiders don't build webs to catch their food, instead they are always looking for females to mate with.
Baby spiders can make perfect webs shortly after hatching.
Did you know spiders are generally carnivorous and feed only on living prey.
A spider's silk is secreted as a fluid and forms a polymer.
Did you know that the latest news is that not only female Red Back spiders harm people but the male Red Back has also put people in
As a contrast, the male Funnel Web spider is 5 times more deadly than the female.