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In this News Blog you will news about Brachypelma spp. and other interesting news concerning the smallest among us.

You will also find messages about updates and other things concerning Brachypelma.org here.

After a while it is also possible that I will post some of my notes from my biology studies here, unless they are more relevant in other sections of the site.



PNAS: Neural activity associated with monitoring the oscillating threat value of a tarantula

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Abstract

Phylogenetic threats such as spiders evoke our deepest primitive fears. When close or looming, such threats engage evolutionarily conserved monitoring systems and defense reactions that promote self-preservation. With the use of a modified behavioral approach task within functional MRI, we show that, as a tarantula was placed closer to a subject's foot, increased experiences of fear coincided with augmented activity in a cascade of fear-related brain networks including the periaqueductal gray, amygdala, and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Activity in the amygdala was also associated with underprediction of the tarantula's threat value and, in addition to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, with monitoring the tarantula's threat value as indexed by its direction of movement. Conversely, the orbitofrontal cortex was engaged as the tarantula grew more distant, suggesting that this region emits safety signals or expels fear. Our findings fractionate the neurobiological mechanisms associated with basic fear and potentially illuminate the perturbed reactions that characterize clinical phobias.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 11 November 2010 10:47
 

The Story of Electronics

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This video will at first seem to have nothing to with arachnids or other arthropods but in fact it's really relevant in our world today: If we don't take care of our planet we will lose loots of arthropod species, not to mention our planets biodiversity as whole. But on the contrary to what many people seem to think this task does not start with the politicians, it starts with our own individual choices and actions.

So enjoy this video and share it with others.



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 19:46
 

ScienceDaily: Insects Learn to Choose the Right Mate

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Researchers from Lund University have shown that damselflies learn how to choose the right mate when two species co-exist locally. The choice of mate is not only a matter of genetic and instinctive behaviour, as has often been assumed for such small and short-lived creatures.

"It is fascinating to see that even small insects can learn these things," says Professor Erik Svensson at the Department of Biology at Lund University.

Erik Svensson and his fellow researchers at Lund University have studied two co-existing species of damselfly (called "demoiselles," belonging to the genus Calopteryx). Damselflies belong to a group of insects called odonates, together with the more familiar dragonflies. The researchers have investigated the mechanisms by which females choose males with whom to mate. The main difference between the two species in terms of appearance is the amount of black on the males' wings. The females therefore have to keep an eye on the wing colour if they are to mate with males of their own species, i.e. the correct mates.

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ScienceDaily: Workers Hold Key to Power in Nature's Oldest Societies, Ant Study Shows

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A new study analysing how complex, highly-evolved societies are organised in nature has found that it is workers that play a pivotal role in creating well-ordered societies where conflict is minimised. For when it comes to determining who reproduces in ants, University of Leicester biologists have found the humble worker is queenmaker -- it is they who choose their queen.

This information is key to understanding the evolution of complex interdependent societies -- over 100 millions years old -- that have evolved mechanisms ensuring stable cohabitation and conflict resolution.

What the Leicester team discovered surprised them: While Spanish worker ants were ruthless in determining who became their queen -- and hence acquired the right to reproduce -- the same species of ants in France, Germany and the UK are known to be more 'apathetic'.

While Spanish workers bullied or even killed rival queens in order to choose their queen, UK workers are not aggressive at all and were loyal subjects to any number of queens.

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Last Updated on Friday, 05 November 2010 15:47
 

ScienceDaily: Dracula Orchids and Goblin Spiders

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Dracula orchids tempt flies by masquerading as mushrooms. Goblin spiders lurk unseen in the world's leaf litter. The natural world is often just as haunting as the macabre costumes worn on city streets, as highlighted by two studies published this year by curators in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, David Grimaldi and Norman Platnick.

Goblin Spiders

Over the past three years, Platnick and colleagues have named or redefined the taxonomy of hundreds of new species of goblin spiders -- an often overlooked group named for their unusual appearance and secretive habits. Goblin spiders (members of the family Oonopidae) are extremely small: the largest is 3 millimeters in size, and most are under 2 millimeters.

"Goblins are probably the most poorly known group of spiders," says Platnick. "Their small size has made them difficult to study, but scanning electron microscopy and recent advances in digital imaging are allowing us to examine their structures in much more detail than was previously possible."

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