I know, a lot of us sometimes are scared of spiders. It’s even got it’s own diagnostic name: Arachnophobia. What I find incredible is the estimate that between 3 to 6% of population has a fear of spiders.. and we are not counting all the other insects. And sometimes, when we don’t fear insects; we are disgusted with them. It pains me a lot when I meet a stereotype – and this is indeed one. So here I am; about to show you the most adorable spiders. Yes; spider babies.
What better way to capture fear of spiders but to read “Little Miss Muffet”
The pursuit started by the desire to image cell division in the field; with no other aid but just a foldscope. I was looking for eggs I can find easily (and teach anyone to find) and something that is transparent enough through the process of first stages of development. Something that is found almost anywhere in the world – and I ended up with spiders. Since, I have posted in detail on watching spider eggs develop – I just reference this post here. https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=7792
But; what happens when the eggs hatch. This post is about exactly that. I had a ziplock bag with many many eggs (possibly a hundred eggs) that I kept in confinement and observed the little guys develop over time. It was the most joyful of videos and I can’t tell you how much I loved watching these guys. It’s incredible how these little machines started walking and pumping hemolymph and all the little pumps inside the legs started turning on. The skin; that was almost featureless started developing hairs and some features you expect of adult spiders (hairy beats). Here is a brief list of observations I made:
1. The surface of the spider is smooth, and only slowly do the hair cells start developing. No pigment or coloration is visible initially; but only at a later stage does any coloration become visible. This is also when internal anatomy of spiders becomes difficult to image.
2. What I find remarkable is the fact that when the spiders hatch; the legs are folded on top of the head. How do I know this; because the legs make a mark on the head. Watch carefully in the video and you will see these specific marks on the top of the head. It’s incredible that these are just depressions of the developing legs.
3. When you watch carefully; you can see little pumps everywhere in the body of the spider – pumping hemolymph. With an angular illumination from a table lamp; I was able to highlight these speckles from the blood flow going in and out of the legs.
4. Coming on to the legs; from the very start – a 5th pair of “legs” is visible. But wait – you always were told spiders have “4 pairs” of legs. That is right; the fifth pair is called “Chelicera“or jaws. Sometimes they might also contain fangs or finger or scissor like appendages.
5. In the last bit of the video; you can see spinnerets have developed. These are organs that spit out the silk. I was curious to see what is the earliest stage that they are capable of spinning webs or generate any spider silk. I could not follow them too late (somehow my bag of spiders was misplaced – I am curious where it went 🙂
Watch the video over and over again and you can make many more observations of your own. Please leave them in comments below and I will add them to this list. If you image some baby spiders; please share them with me by leaving a comment as well.
Anyway, just like as I always say – you can read about all kinds of things. But what is more fun is to watch it yourself. So; get out and catch some spider eggs. Share these adorable beings with your friends – specially who are scared of spiders. Who knows, maybe these little guys will become an internet sensation – like the kittens who currently rule the inter webs.
Never stop exploring..