biology zoology blog spider web spiders arachneid

Arachno-Technology

Arachno-Technology: Is there such a thing at all?

My grandfather, who was not a zoologist at all, but a tea merchant, always had a spider in a cage on his desk. Since most species of spiders in temperate countries do not live longer than a year or two, it was not always the same individual that entertained him (and me). Collectively, all these spiders had one thing in common: they all spun silk, which is why spiders are scientifically called Araneae (named after Arachne, who had challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest and promptly was turned into a spider as a punishment for such impertinence). —>—>

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biology zoology blog hanging the wall

Hugging the Wall

Why hugging the Wall?

A mouse, a newt, a beetle… when placed into the unfamiliar surroundings of an empty, featureless container (not all at once, of course; that wouldn’t be a good idea!) all show a characteristic behaviour that is common to a large number of animal species: they hug the wall. Once they have found the edge of the container, their restlessness reduces, they calm down and may even stop to move altogether.
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biology zoology blog animals at play

Animals at Play

Which animals do play?

Two lectures in my animal behaviour class were devoted to animal play. But how to define “play” and how to know that animals are at play? Play is an energetically-demanding activity, occupying a considerable percentage of time in many a species’ life and it is not usually leading to food acquisition. While it is generally accepted that a playing animal is more at risk than a non-playing one (after all it makes itself more conspicuous; it can injure itself; it can even get lost), there must be some pay-off, some evolutionary benefit in addition to the simple enjoyment factor associated with play. —>—>