Tagged With spiders

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Spiders are typically thought of as solitary creatures that don't partake in social pleasantries unless it has something to do with mating. But as new research shows, the African velvet spider is an exception to this rule. Mother spiders are assisted by closely-related virgin females who, in addition to engaging in child-rearing tasks, offer themselves up as a sacrificial meal for the spiderlings.

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Ah, the Australian trapdoor spider. Just one of the fears of shoe-less country kids, popping out from its burrow to scare the bejeezus out of you at dusk. It's a bit of a homebody, living out its life no further than a couple of metres from where it was hatched.

But hold on to that thought - because now research from University of Adelaide shows this hard-bodied eight-legged tank must have travelled to Australia over the Indian Ocean from South Africa.

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Imagine this thing that has actually happened: You're in the US when your infant develops a strangely-shaped skin lesion. Seeing this disgusting skin lesion and thinking it might be anthrax, you take your child to the doctor. "Doc, I think I my kid has anthrax," you might say. The doctor's eyes roll. "It's obviously a spider bite," doc probably replies. Turns out your kid had anthrax all along.

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Recent news reports that a man had both his legs amputated after being bitten by a white-tailed spider have again cast this spider in a negative light. Experts have since said amputations may have been wrongly blamed on a spider bite, and authorities now consider a bacterial infection to be responsible for the man’s injuries. Despite this, the damage to the largely harmless white-tail may have been done.

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Say hello to Califorctenus cacachilensis, a new species of spider found in a remote mountain region of Baja California Sur. This elusive, softball-sized arachnid prefers the dark and cosy confines of caves, which seems entirely appropriate given its gruesome appearance. Also, we are never going into caves ever again.

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Spider silk has some amazing properties, with a higher tensile strength than steel (though still half that of Kevlar), while being highly ductile. Forget about bullet-proof vests or web-shooters, when can I wear the stuff... without having to run through the bush with my eyes closed? Turns out the answer is "now", or at least "soon", with the US-based Bolt Threads debuting its first spider-silk garment -- a tie.

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2016 was a difficult year and 2017 doesn't stand to get any better, so here's the bad news -- the ghost spiders have flown over to a remote island, evolving into new species scientists were previously unaware of. In order to fly, spiders use a technique called ballooning, turning their silk into a sort of kite that takes them long distances. National Geographic reports that a new study finds that ghost spiders -- named for their light complexion -- ballooned themselves to the famous Robinson Crusoe Island and have since evolved at a rapid pace.

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Researchers from the UK and Spain have shown that spiders are capable of tuning their webs, allowing these eight-legged critters to receive specific information about their environment, including the presence of prey, potential mates and the structural condition of the web.

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Trap-jaw spiders hunt by sneaking up on their prey and rapidly snapping their mandibles shut, but scientists weren't entirely sure about the mechanics involved. Using high-speed video, researchers from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have chronicled just how these spiders manage such an impressive combination of power and speed. The details can now be found in Current Biology.