Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's raining spiders in Brazil (random science)

I saw an article posted on facebook with footage of spiders falling from the sky.  They quoted a biologist who said that the species is a social species that lives in massive colonies, and that the behavior is not unexpected/unusual.  The author contends that it is, and promises to follow up 'as answers are found'.

I started looking up some crazy things I remember reading about spiders jumping to their deaths (more on that later), but when I went back and watched the footage, they certainly were not making rapid descents, as the descriptor 'raining' would suggest.  The biologist quoted also described them as making 'sheet webs' which seems to explain this.  Either way, it's really something to see.

Article Link: Think Nemo's bad? In Brazil it's raining spiders

So, the memory this triggered for me was of a brain eating fungus that infects a particular spider host.  When the brain is infected the spider eventually climbs to the tallest tree it can find and jumps to its death.  Unfortunately I couldn't find anything on that phenomenon and got side tracked on the two following (random science) topics.

Mexican Jumping Death Spider

If this species (not actually originating in Mexico) chooses to jump and successfully reaches the apex of the jump, it will die at that point in its jump.  If it jumps or falls but does not consciously choose to do so, it will not die.  If it chooses to jump but does not reach the apex or is in some way obstructed from successfully jumping, it also will not die.

Brain eating ameoba

This ameoba is fatal for the rare swimmer that contracts it in US freshwater, with the threat each year subsiding with the onset of winter.  But a couple of people have contracted it through their neti pots.  Only a couple, but still....I think I'll be using distilled water from now on.


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