You know who else is obsessed with genitals?


I’ve been reading some taxonomy papers, and oh boy, do they groove on genitals: close-up photos, lovingly detailed camera lucida drawings, every hair and curlicue noted. Of course, they have an excuse: genitals vary between species, so they’re taxonomically diagnostic.

So this morning, I noticed one of my spiders had molted earlier — he was still a bit pale and wobbly — and had definitely graduated from pre-adolescent bulge to big hairy spiky thingumabobs. I decided that I too could pretend to be a real arachnologist and ask him all about his genitals, or palps.

Here he is at a low power. Males always look long-legged and gangly to me, but look at those big dark balls on display at the front of his face. Those are the palps, which he loads with sperm and then uses as an intromittent organ.

Like a real arachnologist, let’s zoom in on those palps. Note the dark curly spikes at the tip — he’d like to jam those in somewhere.

He’ll get his chance. He just molted, now I’m waiting for some of the females to go through another molt, and then I’ll introduce them. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Wait, wait, if Edward Dutton is into “exotic” genitals it would be a great prank next April 1st to dump him into your tank of molting tarantulas.

  2. PaulBC says

    I’m suddenly having flashbacks to raising Sea Monkeys™ as a kid. I am not entirely sure what I was seeing, but life in a brine shrimp tank is just a non-stop orgy as far as I can tell.

  3. Ridana says

    “Palps” is such a stodgy word. Too much like “plops.” They should be called “intromittens.”