Featured image: the newly described jumping spider Uroballus carlei resembles a caterpillar. Credit: Stefan Obenauer, iNaturalist.
There’s satire, cake, molecular phylogeny, and more in this round-up of all things arachnid. This month is very jumping spider-heavy—but can you blame me?!
Education and outreach
- Mission: Invertebrate, part of the international City Nature Challenge, aims to catalogue London’s invertebrate biodiversity, like the Tower Hamlets spider discovered in 2002.
At EvoBites, Sebastian Echeverri describes how Damian Elias and Maddie Girard tested the role of the colour red in peacock jumping spider courtship.
This National Geographic video explains how spiders fly (“balloon”) using wind and static electricity.
The podcast Species recently devoted an episode to Portia fimbriata, everyone’s favourite uncannily intelligent jumping spider.
Art and media
- A is for Arachnid! A cool design by scientific illustrator Laura Corillon.
I've decided to join in on #36daysoftype !! I want to limit myself to an hour on each letter. Two days late but here it is – A for #Arachnid 🕷️ #scicomm #illustration #sciart pic.twitter.com/8jPMdtBlh3
— Laura Corillon (@LauraCorillon) April 4, 2019
- “#I want to know at which point while reading this did you realize something was Up”
Arachnologist Fiona Cross’s birthday cake featured her research subject, Portia.
Check this out – the cake of my dreams!! Thank you SO much @Cakes_So_Simple – it was a very happy birthday for me! And wonderful I could share it at #CO32019 @ComparativeCog 🕷 #LoveSpiders pic.twitter.com/JtxaNazQz7
— Fiona Cross (@drspidernz) April 12, 2019
- Some very cool arachnid photos—including spiders, opilionids, amblypygids, and palpigrades—made the final 20 of this cave biology photo contest.
Research and observations
- Researchers have successfully coaxed E. coli bacteria into making spider silk.
Not-technically-spiders-but-close-enough: In the icy waters of Antarctica, pycnogonids, or “sea spiders”, grow to gigantic sizes. A new study tests how they might cope in warming oceans. [Paper.]
Orbweavers aren’t the only ones who weave orb webs! In Karnataka and Kerala, some small jumping spiders, possibly genus Anarrhotus, have been found in flat, round orb webs. But these spiders use them for shelter at night, not catching prey. [Paper.]
More jumping spider surprises: salticid vision is thought to be optimized for daytime hunting, but new research shows that Cyrba can see quite well in the dark! [Paper.]
The Tarantula Keepers’ Coalition summarizes the latest report from Ranil P. Nanayakkara on mygalomorph life in the “wet zone” of Sri Lanka.
New species and revisions
- Uroballus carlei, an adorable new jumping spider from Hong Kong, resembles a fuzzy little lichen moth caterpillar. It’s named after Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. [Paper.]
A new molecular phylogeny of wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) suggests their unique traits allowed this relatively young family to quickly spread out across the globe. [Paper.]
A new DNA barcode-based phylogeny for the crab spider genus Xysticus transfers a whole whackload (scientific term) of species to related genera like Bassaniodes and Psammitis. See the World Spider Catalog entry for the full list. [Paper.]
Introducing Asiolasma, a new genus of ortholasmatines, opilionids that sport crown-like, ornate “hoods”. As the name suggests, they’re found throughout Asia. [Paper.]
#Opiliones !!!! Just published, this paper by J. Martens revises Asian Ortholasmatine, including the new genus Asiolasma with six species. Ortholasmatines are known for very their elaborate hoods and cuticular structure. Figs from paper, here: https://t.co/qDkJ6eGqMw pic.twitter.com/RPAa3NLdIV
— Shahan Derkarabetian (@sderkarabetian) April 15, 2019
Thank you for reading! As always, additions and corrections are welcome.
(My apologies for lack of Sci-Hub links, but I think my ISP may be blocking it? I will go back and add the links later when I have time.)