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iLabs: Arachnophobia

July 16, 2012

Last week we blogged about the slide that provoked the most questions; this week we are blogging about the slide that many react to with an “EWWW!”.

Spiders aren’t that scary!

This is, of course, the slides featuring parts of the tarantula.  At first glance, many visitors think that we have quite a few dead tarantulas here in the Natural World iLab.  Most tarantulas live at least a few years, so we would have to wait a long time to get this many specimens.  Instead, each of them are tarantula molts.  Much like snakes, tarantulas shed their outer layer in order to grow.  But unlike snakes, they are shedding their exoskeleton which is why these molts look like they could be dead spiders.

Tarantula molt under our Microeye Microscope

The other part of the tarantula that often warrants a reaction is the cephalothorax.  As you can see in the picture below, this is the part of the spider that has its eight eyes.  Having eight eyes actually does not characterize an arachnid as a spider.  Spiders have other distinct identifiers such as spinnerets and two body sections.

Count all eight eyes. It’s the arrangement of the eyes, not the number, that can identify this “bug” as a spider.

Stay tuned for more information about our slides… next week, plants!

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 6:18 pm

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs.

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