The Measured Jumps of a Regal Jumping Spider

How much jumping would a jumping spider jump if a bunch of scientists made her keep jumping? One answer to that, involving one spider—a regal jumping spider—appears in this study, and in an accompanying video: “Energy and Time Optimal Trajectories in Exploratory Jumps of the Spider Phidippus regius,” Mostafa R.A. Nabawy, Girupakaran Sivalingam, Russell J. Garwood, […]

Shadows Cast by Spider Legs, Used in Physics Calculations

Anticipating Halloween, the American Chemical Society has published a study about using the shadows cast by (kinda sorta) spider legs, for scientific purposes. The paper is: “Elegant Shadow Making Tiny Force Visible for Water-Walking Arthropods and Updated Archimedes’ Principle,” Yelong Zheng, Hongyu Lu, Wei Yin, Dashuai Tao, Lichun Shi, and Yu Tian, Langmuir, 2016, 32 (41), pp. […]

Slime moulds and French motorway planning (new study)

Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, were jointly awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel Transportation Planning prize for using slime mould to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks. See: ‘Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design’ in […]

Virtual cockroaches alleviate fear of cockroaches

Not many people with a fear of, say, cockroaches, would be happy to let a few of them roam across their bare hands (in order to alleviate their fears by habituation). In other words: “Although in vivo exposure is the treatment of choice for specific phobias, some acceptability problems have been associated with it.” In […]

The vampire spiders and the transplanted mosquito heads

This tweet by May Berenbaum will lead you, if you let it, to an entomological adventure: Testing vampire spider preferences by transplanting male mosquito heads on female mosquito bodies. It’s alive!! See J Exp Biol 6/7 Berenbaum refers, tersely, to this study: “The discerning predator: decision rules underlying prey classification by a mosquito-eating jumping spider,” Ximena […]

Eunuchs as better fighters?

Handicapping a genuine fight is not always as easy as it seems. As in other endeavors, much of the “everybody knows” knowledge ain’t necessarily so. Consider this case study from the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts: “Eunuchs as better fighters?” Simona Kralj-Fišer [pictured here] and Matjaž Kuntner, Naturwissenschaften, Volume 99, […]

Keep your eye on the spider, and the spider off your eye

From Leeds and London comes a new medical horror story: “A Hairy Affair: Tarantula Setae-Induced Panuveitis Requiring Pars Plana Vitrectomy,” Anindita Hom-Choudhury, Antigoni Koukkoulli, Jonathan H. Norris, Bataung Mokete and Oliver C. Backhouse, International Ophthalmology, epub January 6, 2012.  The authors, at University Hospital, Leed and at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, report: “Cases of ocular […]