Spider Hides in Water; Takes Air With ItSometimes scientific research involves waiting for a half hour to see if a spider is more afraid of humans or of drowning. In this case, the spider turned out alright, because he had an air supply! We don't know if this was an experiment or a random incident that led to a science paper, but Lindsey Swierk and other scientists from Binghamton University scared a spider of the species Trechalea extensa. It is a semi-aquatic spider that sometimes ventures out onto the surface of water to look for prey. This time, it went underwater to hide, a behavior that these spiders are not known for.They observed the spider in the water, covered by a thin layer of air. It appears the air was held in place by the hydrophobic hairs that cover the arachnid. The air-breathing spider was able to stay submerged for a half-hour, which makes us wonder if you have to worry about spiders even while swimming. Read more about the spider and his personal bubble at New Atlas. -via Damn Interesting ​(Image credit: Lindsey Swierk)#spider #air #submergedspider #divingspider  
Scientists Translated Spider's Web Into MusicThese scientists never run out of new ideas, huh!Spider's Canvas is an interactive musical instrument that was derived from the three-dimensional structure of a spider’s web and translated into music. This project was a result of a collaboration between scientists and artist Tomás Saraceno. The researchers behind the instrument now refined and built a new interactive virtual reality feature that allows people to interact with the web. "The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings," engineer Markus Buehler of MIT explained in 2021. "They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies."Image credit: Torbjørn Helgesen#music #spider #science #research #SpidersCanvas
Winners of the Close-up Photographer of the Year 2021The top 100 winners of Close-up Photographer of the Year 03 (2021) or CUPOTY 03 are now featured on its website showing the winners gallery.The Close-up Photographer of the Year website was the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Tracy and Dan Calder of Winchester, UK. They wanted to put close-up, macro and micro photography on the center stage and be celebrated in its own right.Tracy, a former editor of Outdoor Photography and a features editor at Amateur Photography, has over 20 years experience in the photo magazine industry. She’s also a photography instructor at West Dean College in Sussex, and an author of Close-up & Macro Photography, which has been translated into French and Chinese. Dan is a contributor to Black + White Photography magazine.This year’s Close-up Photographer of the Year (CUPOTY 03) has more than 9000 photos from 55 countries across nine different categories. These categories are insects, animals, plants and fungi, underwater, butterflies and dragonflies, intimate landscape, manmade, micro, and young.From each category, the top three winners were chosen alongside with the other finalists. Here are the top three winners per category.#photography #CUPOTY #MacroPhotography #CloseupPhotography #photographycompetitionInsects
Female Spiders’ Maternal Instincts Captured in 99-Million-Year-Old AmberFour adult spiders encased in amber were found in the northern part of Myanmar that are estimated to be around 99 million years old. They belong to the extinct family of lagonomegopids, and show us how spider behavior has changed and how it stays the same. For example, these spiders did not build webs, but they did spin silk. In behavior that doesn't change, these four chunks of amber are the oldest known examples of a maternal instinct in spiders. One shows a spider, frozen in time, clutching her egg sac. The remaining three amber specimens showed already hatched spiderlings near fragments of their mother's legs. Researchers counted a total of 24, 26, and 34 hatched babies in the each. The amber also had pieces of wood wrapped with silk strands, suggesting that these pieces were preserved remnants of a spider nest. Together, the findings indicate that the spider babies stayed nearby and were guarded by their mothers. As their nest flooded with resin, the mother chose to stay and protect her spiderlings, reports New Scientist.Oh great, now I'm going to have a Charlotte's Web moment. Read about the discovery at Smithsonian. ​(Image credit: Xiangbo Guo)#spider #fossil #amber
Spider Demonstrates How to Build a WebHave you ever considered how much engineering talent goes into building a website? I mean, a spider web? An orb-weaving spider must deal with a crushing schedule, two kinds of materials, design decisions, and the laws of physics. From Wikipedia: Generally, orb-weaving spiders are three-clawed builders of flat webs with sticky spiral capture silk. The building of a web is an engineering feat, begun when the spider floats a line on the wind to another surface. The spider secures the line and then drops another line from the center, making a "Y". The rest of the scaffolding follows with many radii of nonsticky silk being constructed before a final spiral of sticky capture silk.The third claw is used to walk on the nonsticky part of the web. Characteristically, the prey insect that blunders into the sticky lines is stunned by a quick bite, and then wrapped in silk. If the prey is a venomous insect, such as a wasp, wrapping may precede biting and/or stinging. Much of the orb-spinning spiders' success in capturing insects depends on the web not being visible to the prey, with the stickiness of the web increasing the visibility and so decreasing the chances of capturing prey. This leads to a trade-off between the visibility of the web and the web's prey retention ability.[4]Many orb-weavers build a new web each day. Most orb-weavers tend to be active during the evening hours; they hide for most of the day. Generally, towards evening, the spider will consume the old web, rest for approximately an hour, then spin a new web in the same general location. Thus, the webs of orb-weavers are generally free of the accumulation of detritus common to other species, such as black widow spiders. Now watch that all come together in this fascinating time-lapse video. 
Image Competition Winners Show the Diversity of Ecological ScienceThe image above by Kristen Brown shows a school of jackfish swimming in a spiral at the Great Barrier Reef. It was the overall winner in the 2021 photo competition from the scientific journal BMC Ecology and Evolution. The picture also won in the category Conservation Biology. The competition attracted entries from researchers all around the world eager to use their creativity to highlight their work and capture the diversity of the planet's flora and fauna. BMC Ecology and Evolution invited anyone affiliated with a research institution to submit to one of the following six categories: ‘Conservation Biology', 'Evolutionary Developmental Biology and Biodiversity', 'Behavioural Ecology', 'Human Evolution and Ecology', ‘Population Ecology' and 'Ecological Developmental Biology'.Our Senior Editorial Board Members lent their expertise to judge the entrants to the competition, selecting the overall winner, runner up and best image from each category. The board members considered the scientific story behind the photos submitted in addition to their artistic judgement (Fig. 1).#jackfish #fish #biology #photography #photocompetition
Scientists Genetically Engineered Daddy Longlegs Into Daddy Short LegsWhy do daddy longlegs have, well, such long legs? To find out the answer, scientists created a mutated version of the arachnid - call 'em daddy shortlegs - to find out how the animal's genetic codes evolve over time and how their legs became so lengthened.First, researchers led byGuilherme Gainett of the University of Wisconsin-Madison sequenced the genome of Phalangium opilio, a species of harvestmen or daddy longlegs. Then they used a technique called 'mRNA interference' to turn off a pair of genes associated with leg development in the embryo. The result is an animal with six of its eight legs abnormally shortened.  Gainett observed that the legs also seemed to have been transformed into a different kind of appendage called pedipalp, which is used to handle food."The genome of the daddy long legs holds great potential to clarify the complex history of arachnid genome evolution and body plan, as well as to reveal how daddy long legs make their unique long legs," said Gainett to CNET."Looking forward, we are interested in understanding how genes give rise to novel features of arachnids, such as spider fangs and scorpion pinchers, and also leveraging the genome to develop the first transgenic harvestmen," he added.Image: Gainett et al.​#spider #daddylonglegs #harvestmen #geneticengineering #mRNA
Microbially Produced Artificial Amyloid-Silk Hybrid Protein Fiber is Stronger Than Steel and KevlarSpider silk is lighter than a feather but stronger than steel. It's thinner than a human hair but can handle weight hundreds of times its own. Its tensile strength (1.1 gigapascal) beats that of steel (05 gigapascal), and its toughness is comparable to that of Kevlar.But even nature can't compete with synthetic biology: a new lab-created artificial silk is even stronger. The new material is called polymeric amyloid fiber. It is produced by genetically modified bacteria in the lab of Fuzhong Zhang of Washington University in St. Louis.From WUSL The Source Newsroom:To solve this problem, the team redesigned the silk sequence by introducing amyloid sequences that have high tendency to form β-nanocrystals. They created different polymeric amyloid proteins using three well-studied amyloid sequences as representatives. The resulting proteins had less repetitive amino acid sequences than spider silk, making them easier to be produced by engineered bacteria. Ultimately, the bacteria produced a hybrid polymeric amyloid protein with 128 repeating units....The longer the protein, the stronger and tougher the resulting fiber. The 128-repeat proteins resulted in a fiber with gigapascal strength (a measure of how much force is needed to break a fiber of fixed diameter), which is stronger than common steel. The fibers’ toughness (a measure of how much energy is needed to break a fiber) is higher than Kevlar and all previous recombinant silk fibers. Its strength and toughness are even higher than some reported natural spider silk fibers.#spider #spidersilk #artificialspidersilk #steel #Kevlar #polymericamyloidfiber #protein #RecombinantProtein #amyloid #materialscience
Vinegaroon: An Acid Spraying Arachnid That Looks Like a Cross Between a Spider and a ScorpionApril showers bring May flowers, but you know what else the summer rains bring out? This strange creepy crawly that looks like a cross between a spider and a scorpion, as mentioned by the Big Bend National Park in its Facebook post. Oh, and if that's not strange enough, the bug can also shoot acid.Behold the vinegaroon, a 3-inch long arachnid that look quite menacing with its huge scorpion-like pincers or pedipalps and long whip-like tail (hence its nickname, the 'whip scorpion'). It can aim and shoot a spray of 85% acetic acid (vinegar) from the base of its tail.But for all that menacing qualities, the nocturnal vinegaroon is actually quite benign and usually won't bother you unless you annoy them. After the rain, vinegaroons would climb out of their burrows and search for food and mates.#vinegaroon #whipscorpion #scorpion #insect #spider #arachnid #BigBendNationalForest #acid #aceticacid #vinegar #tail #pincers #pedipalps
ArachnoBot? Scientists Create Spider-Inspired JointsInspired by how spider's joints work, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany and at the University of Colorado Boulder have created a lightweight "Spider-inspired Electrohydraulic Soft-actuated joints."​Unite.ai explains:Spiders often serve as inspiration in the field of robotics, especially since they move their limbs through hydraulic actuation mechanisms when hunting for prey, which scientists try to implement in robots.By using these principles, the team of scientists was able to drive articulated robots without any bulky components and connectors, which help avoid them being weighed down and increase portability and speed.Because of the lightweight simple structures used in its construction, the robot can jump 10 times its height.