assassin spiders

Here’s one for the now-I’ve-seen-everything file. A photo of the rather bizarre assassin spider featured in a news story on the California Academy of Science’s “Science Now” website.

These tiny arachnids in the Archaeidae family are only about 2 mm (less than 1/8 inch) long, but their bizarre fangs and spider-hunting practices have earned them a reputation as the world’s most grotesque spiders.

And yup, it really is pretty grotesque.


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8 Responses to “assassin spiders”

  1. Nick Says:

    I don’t think they’re grotesque.I think they’re cool!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Hi Nick~

    Actually, once you’ve looked at them a couple of times, they don’t really look all that strange. They sort of remind me of a cross between a spider and a mobile crane or one of those “bucket arms” that they use to lift linesmen up to work on power and telephone lines. (-:

  3. Brittanie Says:

    When I first heard of these I couldn’t believe my eyes at how strange they looked. Even now after seeing tons of pics they still look odd but you can still see most of the features of a “regular” looking spider in these.

    I like them btw and I hope to go to Madagascar and see some someday.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Brittanie – Yes, they’re very weird looking spiders. I’ve found a couple of odd looking spiders here in North America, but nothing so strange as these ones!

  5. Laiku Oh Says:

    I still can’t find out its body shape- No matter how I try to look at it, it looks like a bird with a bug stuck on its upper beak!

  6. burning silo Says:

    Laiku – Well, they do have an unusual body shape. The abdomen is normal, but the cephalothorax (front section with eyes) is almost divided into two parts…with one part being more like the thorax of an insect, and then a long “neck” with the head part with the eyes. The jaws (chelicerae) are huge — big long parts sticking far out to grip prey. They would work a bit like a head with a long set of tweezers or needle-nose pliers used for gripping things out and away from the body. As it mentions in the article, that allows them to grab prey and hold them while biting, without actually having to get their bodies too close. Spiders can be killed if stung or bitten by their prey, which is why most spiders do not approach certain kinds of flying insects if they find them in their webs.

  7. Laiku Oh Says:

    That’s very interesting… This somehow brings up a question. Do you believe in evolution? I’m not being mean or anything, but evolution kind of has no sense to me. How did the ancient dinos, considered cold- blooded reptiles, turn into warm- blooded, rather smaller, flamboyant birds with some plumage? And if humans came from apes, then why are they still here, or where did apes come from? It just isn’t right, you know?

  8. burning silo Says:

    Laiku – Interesting questions, and worth considering as there are many viewpoints.

    Yes, I do believe in evolution. However, I can understand why some aspects of evolution would not make sense — for the reasons you have mentioned. However, the way I think of evolution is that these changes have happened over periods of time that are so great, that tiny changes gradually add up so that groups of organisms become unique in some way that sets them apart from others. For example, consider the assassin spider that preys upon other spiders and perhaps other dangerous prey that might not even exist anymore. Earlier in its evolution, it may well have had much shorter jaws and many of the spiders may have been killed. The ones with the longest jaws would have been the survivors and gradually evolved the physical attributes that would allow them to hunt without danger of being killed by their intended prey. When we study such creatures as insects and spiders, we organize them by Order, Subfamily, Genus, Species, Subspecies (taxonomy, and the process of organizing is referred to as “systematics”). With insects and spiders in particular, there are so many thousands of different species, that it is easier to see each division in development. I liken evolution to a great journey. A group of us (various creatures) set out but soon come to many forks in the roads. Some go one way, and some go another. By the time we get to some stopping point (let’s say, the stopping point is now), we are all in very different places. Some stopped along the way and didn’t go further. Some died. From the point of view of taxonomy, that is why some creatures such as the salamanders have some that ended up as terrestrial creatures, but some ended up like the aquatic Mudpuppy salamanders with gills. At some point in time, some salamanders must have had to adapt to very different survival conditions. Some went one way, and the others went another, so that now we have some distinctly different branches in this Order.