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Category Archives: Animals
Goliath encounter: Puppy-sized spider surprises scientist in rainforest
Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.
“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
A moment later, he realized he was looking not at a brown, furry mammal, but an enormous, puppy-size spider.
Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), the colossal arachnid is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records. Itsleg span can reach up to a foot (30 centimeters), or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of “a large fist,” Naskrecki told Live Science. And the spider can weigh more than 6 oz., about as much as a young puppy, the scientist wrote on his blog. [See Photos of the Goliath Birdeater Spider]
Some sources say the giant huntsman spider, which has a larger leg span, is bigger than the birdeater. But the huntsman is much more delicate than the hefty birdeater comparing the two would be “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant,” Naskrecki said.
The birdeater’s enormity is evident from the sounds it makes. “Its feet have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground,” he wrote, but “not as loud.”
Prickly hairs and 2-inch fangs
When Naskrecki approached the imposing creature in the rainforest, it would rub its hind legs against its abdomen. At first, the scientist thought the behavior was “cute,” he said, but then he realized the spider was sending out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them. When these hairs get in the eyes or other mucous membranes, they are “extremely painful and itchy,” and can stay there for days, he said. [Creepy-Crawly Gallery: See Spooky Photos of Spiders]
But its prickly hairs aren’t the birdeater’s only line of defense; it also sports a pair of 2-inch-long fangs. Although the spider’s bite is venomous, it’s not deadly to humans. But it would still be extremely painful, “like driving a nail through your hand,” Naskrecki said.
And the eight-legged beast has a third defense mechanism up its hairy sleeve. The hairs on the front of the spider’s body have tiny hooks and barbs that make a hissing sound when they rub against each other, “sort of like pulling Velcro apart,” Naskrecki said.
Yet despite all that, the spider doesn’t pose a threat to humans. Even if it bites you, “a chicken can probably do more damage,” Naskrecki said.
Bird eater or mostly harmless?
Despite its name, the birdeater doesn’t usually eat birds, although it is certainly capable of killing small mammals. “They will essentially attack anything that they encounter,” Naskrecki said.
The spider hunts in leaf litter on the ground at night, so the chances of it encountering a bird are very small, he said. However, if it found a nest, it could easily kill the parents and the chicks, he said, adding that the spider species has also been known to puncture and drink bird eggs.
The spider will eat frogs and insects, but its main prey is actually earthworms, which come out at night when it’s humid. “Earthworms are very nutritious,” Naskrecki said.
Birdeaters are not very common spiders. “I’ve been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times,” Naskrecki.
After catching the specimen he found in Guyana, which was female, Naskrecki took her back to his lab to study. She’s now deposited in a museum.
Nothing helps Monday blues like cute doggies…
This amazing, truly awe-inspiring series was envision and brought to life by Lennette Newell, an American photographer, based in Los Angeles. Ani-Humans is the name chosen by the artist for her exhibition and it can be considered a lifelong dream come true.
Born and raised on the high plains of Western Nebraska, as the daughter of a veterinarian, she used to fantasize of becoming one of the animals her father took care of. Lennette Newell’s personality was influenced by this, combined with the environment she grew in, The Great Plains, shaping her character and determining her conceptions: greatly involved in nature’s preservation, she supports the changes needed by our planet in order to survive.
The photo shoot, Ani-Humans, took place at the famous Smashbox Studios, in L.A., featuring six different exotic animals and three rather brave models. The animals were brought from in and around Los Angeles, the cast consisting of an elephant, two zebra and tigers, a baboon, a cheetah and, finally, a python. Lennette Newell made sure that the animals were treated as good as their human counterparts, every one being closely monitored by their own personal trainer, as they interacted with them.The life of the models, Jasmina, Paolo and Kaela, weren’t easy either, undertaking over seven hours of makeup, for the four days needed to complete the Ani-Humans series. Although naked and sometimes posing in quite amusing and funny postures, Lennette Newell tried to underline the seriousness behind the idea of her project. Beside the attempt of creating a connection between the two species, the artist also struggled to remind us of our humble origins. After all, we are all animals and as a society, we should make an effort to rekindle the bond with nature, coming ever closer to our distant brothers.
The Ani-Humans series is Lennette Newell’s latest project. Nevertheless, her photos appealed to the public, creating a real buzz and finally granting her an honorable mention at the International Photography Awards.
Thousands of venomous spiders force family to abandon their $450K suburban St. Louis home
WELDON SPRING, Mo. – A family was driven from their suburban St. Louis home by thousands of venomous spiders that fell from the ceiling and oozed from the walls.
Brian and Susan Trost bought the $450,000 home overlooking two golf holes at Whitmoor Country Club in Weldon Spring in October 2007 and soon afterward started seeing brown recluse spiders everywhere, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . Once when showering, Susan Trost dodged a spider as it fell from the ceiling and washed down the drain.
She told St. Louis television station KMOV-TV in 2012 the spiders “started bleeding out of the walls,” and at least two pest control companies were unable to eradicate the infestation.
The couple filed a claim in 2008 with their insurance company, State Farm, and a lawsuit against the home’s previous owners for not disclosing the brown recluse problem.
At a civil trial in St. Charles County in October 2011, University of Kansas biology professor Jamel Sandidge — considered one of the nation’s leading brown recluse researchers — estimated there were between 4,500 and 6,000 spiders in the home. Making matters worse, he said, those calculations were made in the winter when the spiders are least active.
The jury awarded the couple slightly more than $472,000, but the former owners declared bankruptcy, the insurance company still didn’t pay anything and the couple moved out two years ago.
The home, now owned by the Federal National Mortgage Association, was covered with nine tarps this week and workers filled it with a gas that permeated the walls to kill the spiders and their eggs.
“There’ll be nothing alive in there after this,” said Tim McCarthy, president of the company hired to fix the problem once and for all.
Filmed over Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts recently, a large hawk gave Amazon a reason to rethink the company’s Prime Air drone delivery initiative. YouTube user and software developer Christopher Schmidt has been taking his Phantom FC40 quadcopter drone out into public areas to fly it around the skies a couple times each week. To capture 1080p video during his weekly flights, Schmidt uses a GoPro Hero 3+ Black attached to his quadcopter drone.
However, a large hawk took offense to the quadcopter drone loudly buzzing in the same airspace. The GoPro camera captured the hawk swooping in from above and slamming into the drone. At this point, Schmidt throttled down the props to avoid doing any serious damage to the hawk and the drone is filmed falling to the ground where it lands upside down on a grassy area of the park.
According to Schmidt, the hawk zipped away and was apparently unharmed from the encounter. Detailed in the description of the YouTube video, Schmidt states “As far as I could tell, the hawk came out unscathed, and having defeated his prey, was happy to retreat…The quadcopter came out unscathed as well.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that birds have taken out a drone that was invading nearby airspace. During December 2013, YouTube user Buddhanz1filmed a similar scenario where an entire flock of birds started dive bombing his DJI phantom drone. Also filmed with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black, repeated attacks from the birds ripped the battery connector and control of the drone was slowly lost as it plummeted to the ground below. The crash landing in that video seemed much more devastating to the drone hardware.