Segments (2)

25 November 2013 by Christopher Buddle, posted in Segments

Here's the second edition of Segments - a weekly feature on Expiscor, bringing you short stories, links and photographs about arthropods. Here are a few highlights from the past week....hope you enjoy!

  • Watch out for that ScorpionArie van der Meijden and coauthors did a fascinating project on scorpions, assessing the relationship between morphology and behaviour in their defensive behaviour. Bottom line: these amazing animals use their 'strongest' defence mechanisms, either their stinger or their pincers, when required. As the authors state, their work corroborates "the anecdotal rule that dangerously venomous scorpions can be recognized by their chelae and metasoma". A species with thick chela, for example, is a species more likely to pinch you than sting you.

Credit: Arie van der Meijden. Watch out for the chela!

  • Are these wolf spiders really different species? This is a pretty common question with those of us who have spent time looking through a microscope at Pardosa species. Slowick & Sikes published a study in the Journal of Arachnology highlighting this exact problem, and in their words: "We found no reliable morphological characters to separate the four species, P. groenlandica, P. tristis, P. prosaica, and P. dromaea,". The species were undiagnosable without geography.

Credit: N. Turley. A curious crustacean, the woodlouse

  • Doctor knows best? But which one? It's a controversy in Australia! Cameron Webb pointed me to this story about redback spider anti-venom in Australia. It seems that recent research suggests that anti-venom is not all that effective, but the medical community doesn't agree.
  • I have often noticed "wildlife photography" often excludes arthropods, despite insects, spiders and their relatives being the most common animals on the planet - they are wild! Is it that 'wildlife' must be things with fur, feather or fins?  Bugman Jones wrote about this issue a little while ago, and he suggests perhaps "wildlife" photographer competitions ought to be renamed "The Cuddly-Wildlife Photographer of the Year".

Tweet of the week.

 

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