biology zoology blog benno meyer saltwater spiders

Marine Spiders

Can there really be spiders in saltwater?

During my first “honey moon” many years ago, we spent a week on the Adriatic Sea island of Rab, which at that time was a part of Yugoslavia and now belongs to Croatia. While my new wife enjoyed getting a suntan lying on her bath towel on the pebble beach or refreshing herself in the water careful not to step on the thousands of sea urchins, I examined the porous stones in the ocean water down to a depth of my hips. What I then saw in the holes and crevices of some of these stones surprised and excited me: spiders, real spiders! I knew of only the freshwater spider Argyroneta aquatica that I had kept in one of my aquariums, which constructs its web and “diving bell” under water, but oceanic spiders? That was something new for me and not just me: it was the spider Desidiopsis racovitzai’s first record for Rab. —>—>

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Little Monsters

No, not children; other little monsters

There won’t be many, I think, who remain totally untouched when they witness how devoted even creatures considered lowly and primitive can be to their offspring and bestow upon them an amazing amount of parental care. The rustic father Diplonychus waterbug, for example, burdens himself with the eggs, attached to his back by his “spouse”, and carries them to maturity. Or, to use another example from the insect world, think of the apparently far-sighted planning, constructing, and supplying of brood chambers in some dung or cadaver-consuming beetles. —>—>

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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). —>—>