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8th Dec, 2008


The arachnonews is now moved to Brachypelma.org

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16th May, 2008


Biologist Names ‘Young’ Spider

Newswise — An East Carolina University biologist has brought his admiration of Neil Young to a whole new class.

Or species, to be exact.

Jason Bond, an ECU professor of biology, has named a newly discovered trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, after the legendary rock star.

“There are rather strict rules about how you name new species,” Bond said. “As long as these rules are followed you can give a new species just about any name you please. With regards to Neil Young, I really enjoy his music and have had a great appreciation of him as an activist for peace and justice.”

(Read more...)

This trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, was named in honor of Neil Young.

20th Feb, 2008


Scorpion Peptide May Be Key to Secretory Diseases

Newswise — Researchers have discovered a peptide in scorpion venom that may hold the key to understanding and controlling cystic fibrosis and other secretory diseases.

In the December 28 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an international team of researchers describes how this novel peptide, called GaTx1, can control the movement of ions and water out of cells by interacting with a crucial chloride channel. This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Peptide toxins from scorpions, snakes, snails and spiders paralyze prey by blocking nerve or muscle ion channels so the prey can’t get away,” explained Nael A. McCarty, an associate professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Biology. “Those toxins have been enormously useful for studying the potassium, calcium, and sodium channels that they interact with, but this is the first toxin discovered that potently binds to and selectively and reversibly inhibits a chloride channel of known molecular identity.”

(Read more...)

4th Sep, 2007


Exotic wasp spider that bites swarming across England

For decades, only the gardens of the South Coast were warm enough for them.

But after years of mild winters, one of Britain's most colourful and striking spiders is on the march.

The population of the wasp spider has exploded and is spreading rapidly north.

This year, females have been spotted in Surrey and Hertfordshire.

(Read more...)

Striped wasp spider's size in comparison to a two pence coin

14th May, 2007


Does Spider-Man stack up to the real thing?

The web's the thing for real and fictional arachnids

In a culture that finds it hard to love most bugs, spiders are nonetheless the ones we tend to accept or at least admire at a distance for their ingenuity with locomotion, insect hunting and home-building.

In each of those areas, the web's the thing, as any Spider-Man fan can see starting Friday when "Spider-Man 3" opens. Spider silk could stop a Boeing 747 in flight, is stronger than bullet-proof Kevlar and more elastic than nylon, biologists say.

(Read more...)

Spider silks, as seen in this wagon-wheel shaped net, are stronger than bullet-proof Kevlar and more elastic than nylon.

3rd Apr, 2007


Strange but True: Spiders Need UV Light to Feel Amorous

Forget turning out the lights to give jumping spiders privacy for mating

Ultraviolet (UV) light—the band of electromagnetic radiation nestled between visible light and x-rays—seems to cast a particularly amorous glow on the animal world. For instance, the budgie, an Australian parrot, is known to respond negatively to potential mates whose plumage has been stripped of its UV-induced fluorescence (wherein ultraviolet light is absorbed and light of a different, usually visible, wavelength is emitted). And although we humans cannot see UV light, as birds and many other animals can, we have incorporated lamps that produce it into some of our modern courtship rituals—just ask anyone who has ever hit the tanning beds in hopes of snaring a mate or any teen whose idea of setting the mood involves shining a black light on a Pink Floyd poster (which then, like the plumage of a budgie, fluoresces visible light).

(Read more...)

MALE JUMPING SPIDERS display their fitness to potential mates via reflected ultraviolet light
(Image: Courtesy of Matthew L. M. Lim and Daiqin Li)

25th Mar, 2007


Discovery of new cave millipedes casts light on Arizona cave ecology

February, 2007. A new genus of millipede was recently discovered by a Northern Arizona University doctoral student and a Bureau of Land Management researcher.

J. Judson Wynne, with the Department of Biology at NAU and cave research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Southwest Biological Center, and Kyle Voyles, Arizona State Cave Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), collected specimens leading to the discovery of two new millipede species in caves on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon. Wynne and Voyles, known for their cave research, also discovered a new genus of cricket last spring.

(Read more...)

21st Mar, 2007


And along came another spider

AS IF huntsman spiders were not creepy enough, there may be more of the hairy kind around. Melbourne Museum has discovered what is believed to be a new huntsman species.

The distinctive spider, dubbed the tiger huntsman for its orange and black markings, was found by museum staff on a collecting trip to north Queensland.

(Read more...)

The tiger huntsman is believed to be a new species.
Photo: Alan Henderson

21st Mar, 2006


Tarantula Venom And Chili Peppers Target Same Pain Sensor

— Venom from a West Indian tarantula has been shown to cause pain by exciting the same nerve cells in mice that sense high temperatures and the hot, spicy ingredient in chili peppers, UCSF scientists have discovered.

The findings demonstrate that some plants and animals have evolved the same molecular strategy to deter predators -- triggering pain by activating a specific receptor on sensory nerves. The research provides new tools to understand how these pain- and heat-sensing neurons work, and to help develop drugs that ease persistent pain, the scientists report. Their finding, based on studies of mice cells in culture and live mice, is published in the November 9 issue of the journal Nature. The senior author is David Julius, professor and chair of physiology at UCSF.

(Read more...)

Trinidad chevron tarantula.
(Image courtesy of University of California - San Francisco).

20th Mar, 2007


Tarantulas produce silk from their feet

Discovery could have implications for evolutionary origin of spider silk

Irvine, Calif., September 27, 2006

Researchers have found for the first time that tarantulas can produce silk from their feet as well as their spinnerets, a discovery with profound implications for why spiders began to spin silk in the first place.

(Read more...)

Tarantula (side view). Photo by Senta Niederegger.