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By Friedrich G. Barth

Spiders are terrific creatures. Their various and intricate variety of habit and hugely built sensory platforms are excellently tailored to the environmental stipulations - as is confirmed via their evolutionary good fortune. Over four hundred million years, spiders have built their sensory organs to a desirable technical perfection and complexity.
In his fascinating ebook, Professor Friedrich G. Barth places this technical perfection into the context of "biology", during which the interplay among surroundings and sensory organs and the selectivity of the senses as a hyperlink among atmosphere and behaviour play a massive function.

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Extra info for A Spider's World: Senses and Behavior

Sample text

Among the vast majority of spiders harmless to humans is Cupiennius. Some information is available about its poison, but before summarizing this I should like to introduce briefly the most important and best known of the truly dangerous spiders. There are about 30 species of these. Only two are likely to be encountered at our northern latitudes: the water spider (Argyroneta aquatica, Agelenidae) and Chiracanthium punctorium (Clubionidae, called in German Dornfingerspinne or "thorn-finger" spider).

This last finding had major implications for us experimental zoologists: It means that under laboratory conditions it is easy to turn our daytime into nighttime for Cupiennius, so that we can have active animals available for observation at a time when we ourselves are normally active (Figs. 2 and 3). The importance of studying Cupiennius salei at the right time of day, even when we were interested in supposedly simple and stereotyped forms of behavior, had been clear to us since we had found that certain leg-muscle reflexes can be triggered much more easily during twilight or in a darkened laboratory than in the light phase of the day (Seyfarth 1978a).

1993). When the strength of the poison is compared among various spider species in terms of the lethal dose for 50% of test animals (LD 50 ), differences of 2 to 3 orders of magnitude are found (Friedel and Nentwig 1989; Nentwig et al. 1992). The same applies to the lower, and presumably more biologically relevant, dose that causes immobilization of the insect (ID 50 ). When the poisons of 18 spider species belonging to 15 families were tested on the cockroach Blatta 5mm Fig. 1. Position and size of the venom glands in the prosoma of an adult female of Cupiennius salei in lateral (top) and dorsal (bottom) view.

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