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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.



ScienceDaily: Male Australian Redback Spiders Employ Courtship Strategies To Preserve Their Life

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New research shows that male suitors of a female cannibalistic spider risk facing a premature death unless they perform an adequate courtship lasting a minimum of 100 minutes. Further, the research shows that "sneaker" males can slip by and mate successfully on the courtship efforts of the hard-working first suitor.

Scientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough have published their research in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study provides new findings on the mating habits of the poisonous Australian redback spider (Lactrodectus hasselti), a member of the black widow family where females are larger in size compared to males.

According to the research, if a male tries to mate without investing sufficient time and energy in courtship, the female spider will kill him and mate with his rival. However, weaker males, or those looking to expend little energy, have found a way to reap the rewards of the more committed suitor.

"The second 'sneaker' male slips by and mates successfully, essentially acting as a parasite on the effort of the first, hard-working male," explains Maydianne Andrade, associate professor and Canada Research Chair of the Integrative Behaviour and Neuroscience group at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

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Latrodectus hasselti spiderlings (Credit: Bidgee Published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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ScienceDaily: Spider Web Glue Spins Society Toward New Biobased Adhesives

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With would-be goblins and ghosts set to drape those huge fake spider webs over doorways and trees for Halloween, scientists in Wyoming are reporting on a long-standing mystery about real spider webs: It is the secret of spider web glue. The findings are an advance toward a new generation of biobased adhesives and glues -- "green" glues that replace existing petroleum-based products for a range of uses.

A report on the study is in the October issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.

Omer Choresh and colleagues note that much research has been done on spider web silk, which rivals steel in its strength. However, scientists know comparatively little about web glue, which coats the silk threads and is among the world's strongest biological glues. Past studies revealed that spiders make web glue from glycoproteins, or proteins bits of sugar attached.

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National Geographic News: Largest Web-Spinning Spider Found

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Meet the newest odd couple of the animal kingdom: the giant female and tiny male of the largest web-spinning spider known to science: Nephila komaci.

The female of the species has a leg span of up to 5 inches (12 centimeters), while the male—which spends much of its time clambering on its partner's back—barely reaches an inch (2.5 centimeters), a new study says.

Part of a well-known group of golden orb-weaver spiders—which can spin webs up to three feet (one meter) wide—N. komaci was first identified in a South African museum collection in 2000.

But it wasn't until a 2007 field survey, which discovered three individuals in South Africa's Tembe Elephant Park, that scientists knew the spider still existed in the wild.

The newfound spider, detailed October 20 in the journal PLoS One, is the first addition to the Nephila genus since 1879.

Largest Web-Spinner a Rarity

N. komaci is likely rare within its small habitats in South Africa and Madagascar, researchers say, and females are much less common than males.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 22 October 2009 08:29
 

ScienceDaily: Scientists Discover Largest Orb-weaving Spider

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Researchers from the United States and Slovenia have discovered a new, giant Nephila species (golden orb weaver spider) from Africa and Madagascar.

The findings are published in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal PLoS ONE. Matjaž Kuntner, chair of the Institute of Biology of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and a Smithsonian research associate, along with Jonathan Coddington, senior scientist and curator of arachnids and myriapods in the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, also reconstructed size evolution in the family Nephilidae to show that this new species, on average, is the largest orb weaver known. Only the females are giants with a body length of 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) and a leg span of 4-5 inches (10-12 centimeters); the males are tiny by comparison.

More than 41,000 spider species are known to science with about 400-500 new species added each year. But for some well-known groups, such as the giant golden orb weavers, the last valid described species dates back to the 19th century.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 07:04
 

ScienceDaily: Being A Standout Has Its Benefits, Study Shows

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Standing out in a crowd is better than blending in, at least if you're a paper wasp in a colony where fights between nest-mates determine social status.

That's the conclusion of a study by University of Michigan researchers published online this week in the journal Evolution.

"It's good to be different, to wear a nametag advertising your identity," said graduate student Michael Sheehan, who collaborated on the research with evolutionary biologist Elizabeth Tibbetts.

In earlier research, Tibbetts showed that paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) recognize individuals by variations in their facial markings and that they behave more aggressively toward wasps with unfamiliar faces. Then last year, Sheehan and Tibbetts published a paper in Current Biology demonstrating that these wasps have surprisingly long memories and base their behavior on what they remember of previous social interactions with other wasps.

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Sterile female paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) worker (Credit: Bruce J. Marlin Published under: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)
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Last Updated on Friday, 16 October 2009 16:16
 


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