Interesting Science Picture XVIII: Spiders Eat Bats

Call me disturbed.

Spiders Eat Bats (Source)

Figure 2. Bats caught by spiders. A – Adult female Avicularia urticans feeding on a Greater Sac-winged Bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) on the side of a palm tree near the Rio Yarapa, Peru (photo by Rick West, Victoria, Canada; report # 1). B – Adult Proboscis Bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) entangled in a web of Argiope savignyi at the La Selva Biological Station, northern Costa Rica (photo by Mirjam Kno¨ rnschild, Ulm, Germany; report # 14). C – Dead bat (presumably Centronycteris centralis) entangled in an orb-web in Belize (photo by Carol Farneti-Foster, Belice City, Belize; report # 12). D – Dead bat (Myotis sp.) entangled in a web of Nephila clavipes in La Sirena, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica (photo by Harald & Gisela Unger, Ko¨ ln, Germany; report # 17). E – A bat caught in the web of an araneid spider (possibly Eriophora sp.) in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica (photo by Cassidy Metcalf, USA; report # 18). F – Live bat trapped in web of Nephilengys cruentata in a thatch roof at Nisela Lodge, Swaziland (photo by Donald Schultz, Hollywood, USA; report # 47). G – Volant juvenile Proboscis Bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) entangled in web of Nephila clavipes photographed in a palm swamp forest near Madre de Dios, Peru (photo by Sam Barnard, Colorado Springs, USA; report # 7). H – Dead bat entangled in web of a female Nephila clavipes in tropical rainforest in the middle of the Rio Dulce River Canyon near Livingston, Guatemala (photo by Sam & Samantha Bloomquist, Indianapolis, USA; report # 11). I – Dead bat (Rhinolophus cornutus orii) caught in the web of a female Nephila pilipes on Amami-Oshima Island, Japan (photo by Yasunori Maezono, Kyoto University, Japan; report # 35). J, K – A small bat (superfamily Rhinolophoidea) entangled in web of Nephila pilipes at the top of the Cockatoo Hill near Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia (photo by Carmen Fabro, Cockatoo Hill, Australia; report # 39). The spider pressed its mouth against the dead, wrapped bat, indicating that it was feeding on it. A Nephila pilipes male also present in the web (K) may have been feeding on the bat as well. L – Dead vespertilionid bat entangled in the web of a female Nephila pilipes in the Aberdeen Country Park, Hong Kong (photo by Carol S.K. Liu from AFCD Hong Kong, China; report # 32).

The Genetics of Stay at Home Vs “Exploratory” Butterflies

Science Daily has a fascinating bit on butterflies called Butterflies That Explore and Colonize New Habitats Are Genetically Different from Cautious Cousins.This extended quote from the press release is fascinating:

In the new study, another gene variant also stood out as an important indicator of butterfly flight ability. New-population females were more often missing a small part of the succinate dehydrogenase gene (Sdhd) and this small deletion was associated with the ability to maintain flight for a greater duration. “The Pgi gene variant seems to be associated with sprinting, and the Sdhd gene variant appears to be associated with endurance,” Marden said. “It’s easy to see why these traits and their associated genes would be found at higher frequencies in new populations. Better flight ability allows certain butterflies to be able to reach and settle new habitat patches.”

Wheat, the paper’s lead author, said, “We already knew about Pgi from previous work in other butterflies and what has been done so far in the Glanville fritillary butterfly. Now with Sdhd we have two genes in the same carbohydrate-metabolism pathway containing alleles of major effect for ecologically important traits.” Marden also commented on the differences in gene expression involving protein dynamics. “Butterflies obtain protein only during larval feeding, whereas the adults rely on nectar, from which they obtain only carbohydrate,” he said. “The timing and level of expenditure of stored proteins is one way to manipulate life history in a species where no more protein will be available to the adult.”

The paper is being published in Molecular Ecology, if someone has access and can send me a copy I would appreciate it. The paper can be found here:

Christopher W. Wheat, Howard W. Fescemyer, J. Kvist, Eva Tas, J. Cristobal Vera, Mikko J. Frilander, Ilkka Hanski, James H. Marden. Functional genomics of life history variation in a butterfly metapopulation. Molecular Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05062.x

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Bee Porn and Male-Male Courtship in Drosophila melanogaster

PNAS has a couple of interesting articles in the most recent edition. The first, The evolution of imperfect floral mimicry touches on a subject that fascinated Darwin. I don’t have access to the paper, but here is the abstract:

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I’m a Bit Late To The Fray, But The Best Phylum = Arthropods

The question has come up on ScienceBlogs as to which class of invertebrates are the best, coolest, etc. Like PZ I had though about saying Cephalopods (because of those nice octopi that helped the archaeology community find some pottery), but in the end I had to go with Arthropods. Let me give you a few examples as to why.

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Social Behavior in Spiders

According to New Scientist a new species of spiders has been discovered that lives in groups and cooperates when hunting:

According to Avilés, there are over 39,000 identified spider species. While she has seen just over 20 species cooperate, she has never encountered any species quite like Theridion nigroannulatum.
The spiders live in nests that house up to several thousand individuals which hunt by hanging threads from low lying leaves. They then hide upside down, beneath the leaves waiting for prey.
When an insect flies into the strands a group of spiders drop down and throw sticky webbing over it. To finish off the ambush they inject venom with their tiny jaws.

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Spiders: One from the Archive

You naughty, naughty people! Come looking for kinky spider lovin ! Come on admit it, thats why you here! Although I have posted some nasty buggers, it’s not that kind of nasty!

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Spiderweb Trapped in Amber

Awhile back I mentioned the discovery of a 120-115 million year old orb weaver trapped in amber. National Geographic and New Scientist both have a story on a spider web trapped in amber. The find dates to about 110 mya.

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