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The most aggressive spider societies don't always thrive

The most aggressive spider societies don't always thrive

Science
March 25 (UPI) -- When colonies of the same spider species must compete for resources, the most aggressive spider society doesn't always thrive. New research suggests the success of a particular colony's success depends on the disposition of its neighbors. The African social spider Stegodyphus dumicola lives in colonies. Some spider colonies exhibit aggressive behavior, while others are more docile. African social spiders from different colonies don't compete face-to-face, but different colonies living in the plant compete for the same flying insects. Some colonies thrive, while others fail. "Consider the coordinated attacks of prides of lions or wolves, or the dazzling swirling behavior of starlings or schools of sardines," Jonathan Pruitt, an evolutionary biologist at the University of...
Eek! Non-native venomous spider found living in Oregon

Eek! Non-native venomous spider found living in Oregon

Technology
The types of venomous spiders residing in Oregon have doubled. State officials confirm that a brown widow spider — usually found in South Africa, Florida and Southern California — has recently been found living in Oregon City, in the northwestern part of the state. It's not clear how it arrived or if there are more. Tom Valente of the Oregon Department of Agriculture tells The Oregonian/OregonLive there's no reason to panic, but residents should be cautious. State officials want residents to search their homes and other areas for brown widows. The spiders are brown and have a distinctive orange hourglass on the underside of their abdomen. Oregon already has black widow spiders. Bites from either spider can cause fever and muscle spasms. Valente says brown widows are subtropic...
Study reveals key mechanism in formation of spider silk

Study reveals key mechanism in formation of spider silk

Science
May 29 (UPI) -- A team of scientists has discovered a previously unidentified structural component key to the formation of spider silk and its extraordinary strength. Prized for its strength and flexibility, material scientists have long tried to produce synthetic analogs for spider silk. The results of previous efforts, however, have been mixed. Studies have shown the importance of beta sheets, or beta strands, the secondary structure in spider silk proteins, but scientists have struggled to understand how these strength-giving structures form. The transformation from soluble proteins to crystalized silk happens fast, making it difficult to study the proteins' structures. In order to gain new insights into the formation process, scientists at Japan's RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resourc...
How a spider jumps on its prey – science has the answer

How a spider jumps on its prey – science has the answer

Science
Scientists have trained a spider to jump on demand.The diminutive arachnid, which they nicknamed Kim, can leap six times her body length from a standing start.Humans only manage about 1.5 body lengths.Unlocking the secrets of her extraordinary leaps could help build a new generation of robots inspired by nature, say University of Manchester researchers.The regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) is known for its ability to make precision leaps to pounce on prey, including insects and small invertebrates.It is one of thousands of jumping spiders that are found worldwide and hunt actively rather than catching prey in a web. They have excellent vision, with four large eyes in front and four smaller eyes on the top of their head.The research team filmed the jumping arachnid with high-tech cam...
Ancient tailed spider trapped in amber offers insights into origin of spiders

Ancient tailed spider trapped in amber offers insights into origin of spiders

Science
Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a new spider species, an arachnid with a tail, hiding in a piece of ancient amber.The amber fossil is roughly 100 million years old and could offer new insights into the origin and evolution of spiders during the Cretaceous period. Amber sourced from Myanmar has become a popular source of scientistic discoveries in recent years."Interest stepped up about ten years ago when it was discovered this amber was mid-Cretaceous," Paul Selden, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas, said in a news release. "Therefore, all the insects found in it were much older than first thought."Selden is the author of a paper describing the spider species, published this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution."It's [amber] been coming into China where de...