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.