Spider update!

Bad news, everyone. Fred is dead. Betty ate him. I’m hoping he at least fulfilled his biological destiny before getting his guts sucked out.

More bad news: as I expected, baby spiders are murderous little cannibals, and there’s been a fair bit of fratricide going on, even though they had plenty of fruit flies strolling about. I’ve now separated them all and the survivors now have their own little chambers with their own little fruit fly to gnaw on.

I made a quick video update. Don’t watch it if you’ve got the arachnophobia.

Here’s a story about a lab that has a substantially greater investment in spider science than I do.

Welcome, Larry!

Uh-oh. I just submitted my first grant application (a small, in-house grant to do pilot studies) for spider research. This might be getting serious.

In more routine news, I added a new fellow to my stable today: Larry. He’s now savoring a meal before I throw him to the loving mercies of the lady spiders.

In case you were curious about how to identify spider sex, I’ll explain below the fold.

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Friday Cephalopod: Another sign of the Cephalopocalypse

Last week, I reported that a 3-meter long clubhook squid had washed up on an Oregon beach. This week, I must report that it has happened again.

You must understand that if a few have died of natural causes, there must be a legion of them lying in wait off the coast. This can mean only one thing: the Cephalopocalypse is nigh. I must get myself to Oregon soon, so I can stand on the beach to greet the onrushing horde, and praise them, as they devour me first.

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: What? Females aren’t beautiful for me?


That female crab doesn’t make herself gorgeous for the males of her species, it seems — sometimes a lady just has to look good.

Contrary to expectation, the model shows that winning the romantic interest of picky males is not enough to explain how desirable feminine features become widespread — even when better-looking females are more likely to land a good catch.

The results of their mathematical approach support other research suggesting that female beauty doesn’t evolve just to win mates.

Instead, traits such as the dance fly’s frilly legs or the blue crab’s red-tipped claws may help their bearers compete for other resources, such as social status or protection from predators. The results are consistent with an idea called the “social selection” hypothesis, first proposed three decades ago by theoretical biologist Mary Jane West-Eberhard of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Impossible. They might consider other resources than access to my magnificent manliness to be valuable? Heresy.