Spiders have a seemingly impossible range of locomotion: they walk, run, jump, swim and even use their silk as “balloons” to float in the wind. But it's the flip-flopping and tumbling by some Huntsman species that are truly amazing. But before being introduced to the flipping huntsman, it's important to know exactly how spiders move.
A spider's stickiness
Spiders are known to crawl along pretty much all known surfaces, including up our legs, or over our arms! The secret to their success is a system that uses a combination of dynamic attachment (a kind of stickiness), tiny hairs on the ends of their legs, and their strength. In a study done by the University of Kiel, it was found that the amount of force that a spider exerts on a vertical surface is three to four times the body weight of the spider. And the smaller the spider, the greater the force, which is the reason why larger spiders (such as tarantulas) have a more difficult time clinging to slippery surfaces. Sigh of relief ....
So they can hang around, but how do they actually move?
Spiders are unusual in using their blood (body fluid or hemolymph) through what is called hydrostatic pressure to move, almost like tiny robots.
A spider's body fluid fills the cephalothorax (the part that contains among other organs, the mouth, eyes and legs) and the abdomen (which contains the lungs, silk producing organs, and butt). The fluid is not contained in veins, but allows the organs to be fully soaked in it. In addition, vertebrates, like humans, move their limbs through the use of extensor muscles (allowing for limbs to be extended), and flexor muscles (which naturally contract limbs, or make them bend). Spiders unfortunately lack extensor muscles.
The efficiency, power and speed at which the hemolymph is pumped allows spiders to move, and the whole process of pumping and flexing can be done in a fraction of a second. The hydraulic power can be powerful enough to assist jumping spiders to jump between 30 and 40 times their own length, and fast enough to allow the giant house spider (Eratigena atrica) to run at a speed of around 1.73 ft/s (0.53 meters per second).
But two of the Huntsman (family Sparassidae) species use fancy acrobatics to move along.
The wheel spider or golden wheel spider (Carparachne aureoflava), is a huntsman spider native to the Namib Desert of Southern Africa. These spiders don’t weave a web. Instead they construct deep burrows in sand dunes, generally on somewhat steep inclines to escape the scorching heat of the desert.
21 mm (0.86 in)
They are nocturnal, and are mostly active during the night to hunt prey. But at times it needs to construct a new burrow during the day, and it's during the initial stages of making this burrow, that the spider is vulnerable to attack. They usually fall prey to the parasitic pompilid wasps that sting and paralyze them, then drags them to their nests where the wasps lay eggs in them.
If acrobatics sounds like an amazing way for a spider to move, the flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi), also known as cartwheeling spider, has won the gold medal!
This huntsman lives in the Erg Chebbi desert of Morocco, and like it's southern cousin, tends to do it's hunting during the night. It also constructs a silk lined burrow in the sand to escape the sun during the day.
19 mm (0.75 in)
When threatened, this huntsman can escape by doubling its normal walking speed by flipping around, similar to acrobatic flic-flac movements used by gymnasts.
Now that's flipping Huntsman for you!
The OZT Project is a world first, developing a platform that will use mapping software (AI) to allow children to map out a workable career preparation path. As they choose a career, the software will sort and present data (on how to prepare, animals and experience) and allow for study material to be formulated on different path levels. Accurate and sufficient information is thus vital! For this reason, this beta website allows experts and all lovers of animals to add information to the different Pages, to allow for YOU to contribute to what the next generation will learn.
There are different ways to contribute, from sponsorship to depositing contact details. But if you want to assist in contributing to content on this specific Page, please add your contribution and/or comments in the boxes provided at the bottom of this Page. All contributors are rewarded! If you want to apply to be the Huntsman Page Ambassador, please follow the Ambassador link in the main Menu. Please support our efforts to educate our children by sharing this Page on Social Media!
For more on the Huntsman, please visit the Huntsman Page on the OZT website.
Can life be that difficult, when you are a male spider? When you are a peacock spider (Maratus) it definitely doesn’t come easy!
At average 5 millimetres in length, the peacock spider has perfected the art of dancing the tango to attract a mate, and to stay alive.
The peacock spider has colourful flap-like extensions on the abdomen that can be extended and folded down. When a male finds a possible mate, it raises his abdomen, then expands and raises the flaps so that the colours are displayed. These flaps are used to gain the attention of the female. Once she shows some form of interest, the male starts to dance. The dance consists of the male vibrating his abdomen while running short bursts from side to side, and all this accompanied by a pair of swinging legs to add to the attraction. The legs are raised and moved around like YMCA hands flapping in the air.
If the male seems to be gaining some attraction, it uses its tiny pedipalps (those small arm-like extensions near the mouth) to tap on the surface. It’s like a Morse code to signal to the female that he is hot, available and whether she is ready to mate. The mating dance can last several minutes, and differs in style from one species to another.
But showing some colourful and impressive moves can cost the male peacock spider his life! If the male continues his dance when the female is not interested, she attempts to attack, kill, and feed on him. Fortunately for the male, he is a jumping spider, so a quick retreat is possible.
There are 67 known species and subspecies of peacock spiders. New species are discovered each year. Due to their colours and dance routines, the new species also have colourful nicknames, such as "Skeletorus" and "Sparklemuffin".
All but one of the peacock spiders live in Australia within a diverse range of habitats, from sand dunes on the temperate coasts to grasslands in the semi- arid regions. The remaining species is found in China.
The biggest Maratus species can reach around 8 millimetres in length.
Peacock spiders can live 3-5 years in the wild.
Are they venomous?
Like almost all spiders, peacock spiders are venomous. But that doesn't mean they're dangerous to humans. Their little jaws are so tiny that they couldn't even puncture our skin.
Feeding and Diet:
Typical to most jumping spiders, the Maratus doesn’t use a web to catch its prey. It hunts, stalks and pounces on the unsuspecting victim. Their main diet consists of tiny insects, such as crickets.
If you ever thought starving yourself as a form of diet would work, think again! It definitely has the opposite effect on this sea snail!
Scientists have found a unique species of snail, the Gigantopelta chessoia, off the coast of the Antarctic that is astounding everyone!
The snail stops eating as it reaches maturity, but still continues to stay alive. Although there are organisms that go through this strange kind of lifecycle, this snail is rather different.
Once the snail reaches a certain body length, its digestive system stops growing. Its teeth, stomach and intestine make way for an expanding esophageal gland. The organ gets so big, it takes up most of the snail’s body, and basically becomes a new organ. Bacteria colonize it, and the snail, which grazed for food when it was smaller, no longer needs to eat. Instead it just sits there getting bigger, surviving on energy the bacteria produces inside the snail’s cells.
The Southern Ground Hornbill - Bucorvus leadbeateri
Of the 55 existing species of hornbill, the Southern Ground Hornbill is the largest at 50 inches (129 cm). Females are distinguished from their male counterparts by the violet-colored patch on their throats, while males have a pure red face and throat.
This bird tends to occupy woodlands and savannahs in which it can forage for small animals, fruit, and seeds, and is found in lesser numbers in the eastern and southern parts of Africa.
They are fascinating birds, preferring to walk than to fly. They form family groups of adults and juveniles and establish territories as large as 40 sq miles (100 sq km). This bird communicates easily, particularly in a group, which can become quite loud. The call is deep and loud, carrying over long distances. When the call is chorused, it can be heard some three kilometers away.
While maintaining a healthy diet of frogs, insects, snakes and even small mammals, they can reach a lifespan of 70 years.
The Southern Ground Hornbill mates between September and December and the breeding pair remains monogamous. The female will usually lay two eggs, with the first hatching before the second and thus also become the dominant chick. This means that only the one chick will survive to fledgling stage.
The Southern Ground Hornbill’s numbers are in a steady decline, and it is now classified as being Vulnerable and, in some places, Critically Endangered. In South Africa, this is due to almost three-quarters of its habitat being lost to overgrazing, a loss of suitable breeding trees, the land being converted into commercial farms, and so on.
Careers working with birds:
A person that studies and works with birds is called an ornithologist. Ornithologists may study the behavior, physiology, and conservation of birds and bird habitats. This work often involves surveying, recording and reporting on bird activity. Ornithologists may either generalize or specialize in a particular species or bird group.
However, many professionals may only spend part of their time researching birds. They may work as wildlife biologists, ecologists, rescuers and sanctuary owners, land managers, researchers, environmental educators, legislative advocates, eco-tour guides, or in the pet industry.
The following Article was published in The Asian Post:
One of the best things about Southeast Asia is that it’s home to lush, green rainforests and extremely diverse wildlife. This is probably one of the many reasons why – according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – over one hundred million tourists flocked to the region in 2016. However, as more and more tourists arrive, opportunists are taking advantage of this growth to prop up shady businesses that seek to cash in on the growing demand for wildlife tourism. Even worse, some of these businesses are also implicit in the illegal wildlife trade that’s rife within Southeast Asia.
A tiger park is one of the more popular attractions in Thailand where tourists can take photographs and “selfies” with tigers and tiger cubs. Animals Asia, an animal rights and welfare organization has raised concerns about the welfare of tigers in such parks. According to a report by Animals Asia, tiger cubs used as photo props are often taken from their parents at a very early age. “If taken from the wild, the cub’s parents will doubtless be killed in the process,” the report added.
There is also speculation that some of these parks are involved in illegal wildlife trading. In June 2016, Thailand’s Tiger Temple, a popular tourist destination in Kanchanaburi Province, was raided after reports that the tigers there were being abused and that the Buddhist monks who run the temple were taking part in illegal breeding and animal trafficking. According to the BBC, over 100 tigers were rescued during the enforcement operation.
Elephants are popular among tourists who come to the region. According to a report by The Guardian last year, about 40% of tourists from the top 10 countries visiting Thailand said that they were planning to take an elephant ride. However, a report by World Animal Protection (WAP) in July, 2017 revealed that most elephants used for wildlife tourism in Asia face cruelty and are kept in deplorable conditions. The WAP conducted an investigation into the living conditions of 2,923 elephants at tourist attractions in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India and found that 77% of these elephants were “treated appallingly” – with Thailand being singled out as the location of most concern by the WAP. The report also indicated that as tourism doubled in Thailand from 2010 to 2016, the rise had contributed to a 30% increase in tourist activities related to elephants.
Elephants are considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. According to Animals Asia, most elephants used in wildlife tourism go through a process called “phajaan” – which when literally translated from Thai means “to crush” – before they can start carrying tourists. The process involves young elephants being taken from their mothers at an early age and placed in small wooden cages. They are then beaten until they are “crushed”, making them docile and obedient enough for humans to train. Chiara Vitali, a wildlife expert at World Animal Protection says that cruelty in the elephant industry is “a hidden form of cruelty” as tourists don’t usually witness this brutality. Despite that, tourists often contribute to the mistreatment of elephants as elephant rides usually involve elephants carrying heavy loads in high temperatures all day. There have even been reports in the Vietnamese media of elephants dying due to being overworked.
To read the FULL Article, please link to https://theaseanpost.com/article/animal-cruelty-rife-tourism-industry
Abyssinians are often confused with wild cats due to their ticked coat. This cat’s fur can be a variety of hues, such as red, chocolate brown, blue or a silvered version of any of these colours. Combined with oversized ears, large almond-shaped eyes and a long, lean body, the dense, short-haired fur is the final feature that makes Abyssinians resemble African wild cats.
WHO AM I?
There are many ideas about where Abyssinian cats originated, but there's no concrete answer. This breed is thought to be one of the oldest, dating back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians' sculptures and murals bear a striking resemblance to Abyssinians, so many think that is where they originated. However, recent genetic research suggests that they may have come from Southeast Asia off the coast of the Indian Ocean.
I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT!
This is a breed that likes to move. Abyssinians are very playful, curious cats. They are constantly in motion, running from window to window while watching birds, or jumping on top of the tables to watch dinner preparation. Have plenty of toys on hand to keep them entertained and engaged.
MR SMART GUY
Abyssinians love to play, but they need more than just a toy being waved in front of them. This breed is very intelligent and can be trained to do more than the average cat. Agility courses, puzzle toys and special tricks are all great options to use with Abyssinians. They can even be taught to walk on a leash and taken outside for a stroll through the neighbourhood.
I LOVE YOU MOMMY!
Abyssinians are happiest with an owner who is home most of the day to engage them and keep them company. When left to their own devices, these felines can cause quite a mess. They love attention and often use their owner's shoulder as the perfect place to rest. Because they're so demanding, Abyssinians do best as the only cats in the house.
UP, UP AND AWAY
Abyssinians are known for jumping and climbing as high as possible. The breed can jump up to almost 1,6 meters in the air, which means that tall shelves, cabinets and the top of the refrigerator are all guaranteed to be visited by an Abyssinian. Access to outdoor trees is recommended for this breed to allow them to climb at will.
Want to know more about the Abyssinian Cat or take our FREE Short Course and earn a completion certificate? Visit our Facts Page.
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With its distinctive bulbous nose, the Saiga Antelope stands out from the usual migrating crowd.
The large humped nose hangs over the mouth of the saiga. The nose is flexible and inflatable so helps it to breathe clean air during dusty summers and warm air during cold winters. Its coat is sparse and cinnamon coloured during the summers, turning to a very thick white coat during the winters. Saiga antelope has long, thin legs but is similar in size to a sheep.
Weight: 30 - 50kg (males) and 21 - 40kg (females)
Shoulder height: 60 - 80cm, males are usually taller than females.
Length: 108 - 150cm
Saiga form herds of 30-40 animals. However, during the migration season tens of thousands of saiga will travel together, forming part of one of the most spectacular migrations in the world.
6 to 10 years
Gestation period is 140-150 days, with litter size 1-2.
Grasses, steppe lichens, herbs and shrubs.
The fall in saiga antelope populations has been dramatic. In the early 1990s numbers were over a million, but are now estimated to be around 50,000. The Mongolian sub-species (Saiga tatarica mongolica) is particularly at risk with an estimated population of just 750.
In a matter of two weeks in 2015, almost 70% of the Saiga population died under mysterious circumstances. The cause of death is still unclear. A 5 year working plan has been implemented to address the Saiga's health issues and to look at what impact humans have on their sustainability.
Off the Radar:
With endangered Species, such as the Saiga, not being high enough on the "popular" list of conservation messages around the world, we will soon find many species completely disappearing even without us knowing they were close to extinction!
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Author - One zoo tree
Our thoughts on education, career choices, following dreams and our ultimate humanistic approach to everything pertaining to conservation