Another Blue Tarantula &
a Spider That Builds a Decoy
It’s good that we have no plans of spending time at the tabletop mountains of Brazil anytime soon. Although we hear nice things about the place, there’s one particular local beauty we wouldn’t like crossing paths with over there: the newly-discovered Sazima’s tarantula.
It’s also a great asset to be of a certain stature (physical, not exactly moral); we tend to tower over spiders. But if you were the size of, say, a fly, caution would be in order: an also newly-found arachnid builds a much bigger ‘spider’, to lure and scare the bejesus out of small critters.
They’re both residents of South America’s Amazon and are truly fascinating for the way they look or go about their business of, well, eating small bugs and stuff. Think about that the next time someone talks about hiking in the jungle, and as if spring has sprung, lightly teases you about joining them.
Be strong and resist, always. In case you’re wondering too, that’s how we spend most of our Saturdays: finding new ways to terrorize our senses. In the process, as it’s pathologically common with fear, we learn a great deal about entomology, the Rainforest, wonders of travel and the natural world.
In reality, as many an enologist don’t actually drink, knowledge not always require one to touch the stuff. We’ve had quite a few fascinating conversations about bugs with people who can’t stand having one around. In some cases, clinical detachment in no way prevents anyone from getting intimate with a subject.
Before going any further, though, let’s be clear that we would hardly advise anyone against going anywhere on our account, be it the Amazon forest, or a trip to buy the proverbial pack of cigarettes. In the case of the former, they may even find way more they’d bargain for, and that’s a good thing.
THE OTHER BLUE SPIDER
It’s a fact that even your granny probably know: tarantulas have an oversized reputation, based more on their appearance than on their actual lethality. No other spider portrays its species so frighteningly well, all hair, and size, and fangs, and an appetite for little innocent birds.
For experts, though, they’re caring mothers, capable of starving to death in order to provide nourishment to their young. So what that every once in a while they’d have their own mates for lunch? There are plenty of wasp species, for example, that use them to feed their own kin, and we never heard of a tarantula complaining about it.
The stunning Sazima’s lives in a relatively isolated area of the forest, which as most of the Amazon, is under constant threat of extinction. It offers yet another astonishingly beautiful sample of the variety of this species, already graced with a full range of piercing colors and, naturally, sizes.
As with all tarantulas, the new species is neither particularly poisonous to humans, although its hairs are highly allergenic, nor it’s the only iridescent blue spider around. There’s also the Southeast Asian blue cobalt, which is smaller. Ivan Sazima, by the way, was a famed Brazilian zoologist.
Unfortunately, along with threats to its natural habitat, the Sazima’s beauty may also cause its downfall. The highly profitable pet trade for exotic critters is poorly regulated, and they may be hunted to a quick demise. Tarantulas may be big enough to eat a bird, but still small to fit down someone’s pants by the dozen. Now we must leave you with such a lovely, leg-warming thought.
LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING
Spiders are around for over 400 million years, longer than most species walking, crawling, and swimming in this planet. Which means that, since they’re not the most poisonous creatures around, they’ve got to be among the cleverest. That’s why we’re not surprised about the discovery of a new, tiny little spider that builds a fake, and much bigger, image of itself.
What’s believed to be a new species of the genus Cyclosa, this one uses debris, leaves, and dead insects to construct a replica of itself, except that it’s way bigger, and hangs the whole contraption on its Web, supposedly to ward off predators. It then stealthily sits quietly atop its own scarecrow of sorts, awaiting its prey.
Crawlers belonging to this genus are known for being builders, and ‘yes, they can’ deceive both predators and prey with great skill, one assumes, developed along millions of years. They build trapdoors, Web burrows, and a variety of architectonic traps, which more than compensate for their small size. The new species though seems to go a bit further.
From a certain distance, the construction does look amazingly like a much bigger creature, and it probably convinces a lot of opportunistic predators (is there any other kind?) that this particular meal may not be worth fighting for. In the meantime, as nature has it, tons of smaller insects get caught in the Web.
Thus, consider yourself fully updated in what spiders are concerned, even though we haven’t told you everything, of course. While there’s a lot to admire about a blue iridescent creature, or a small critter with a big idea to survive, we were just not up to discuss the other discovery of the year: the spider with a big, ugly paw.
* Happy Halloweeners
* Eight Legs