spidey tense

Popular Science - - TALES FROM THE FIELD -

JENNY STYNOSKI, RE­SEARCH PRO­FES­SOR AT THE IN­STI­TUTO CLODOMIRO PI­CADO AT THE UNI­VER­SITY OF COSTA RICA

I reg­u­larly ven­ture into the Costa Ri­can jun­gle to study poi­son frogs. These lit­tle guys don’t make their own poi­son; in­stead, they get tox­ins from the mites and an eat. When the m has tad­poles, she them un­fer­til­ized with the same po in­side. I wanted t whether this defe the tad­poles aga preda­tors such a snakes and spide

We tested sna the lab, but tropi ba­nana spi­ders a cap­tiv­ity. You have to ob­serve them on their own turf—the jun­gle at night. You shine a head­lamp around, and their eyes re­flect a blue sparkle. Then you tempt them with a tad­pole on a stick and hope they don’t run at you. They’re mas­sive—the size of tennis balls—and hairy, with ven­omous

fangs. I keep 40 snakes in my of­fice and don’t scare eas­ily, but some­thing about the way these spi­ders move made me panic. I kept freak­ing out and ac­ci­den­tally throw­ing the bait tad­poles into the bushes. Even­tu­ally, I had to re­cruit stu­dents to help me.

It turns out, the spi­ders some­times grab poi­sonous tad­poles, but they al­ways let them go. That raised new ques­tions about how they sense prey is toxic. Un­for­tu­nately, find­ing an­swers will take a lot more spi­ders.

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