Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bland Title Is Bland

(Sorry things have been a little bit inconsistent here lately; I've had a lot of occasions where I didn't feel much like blogging or certain internet-related issues have made things difficult. On with the post.)

So what's scarier? A tarantula or a wasp?

If you said "tarantula," well, that's silly.

(The video describe the animal as a "giant barbarian spider," but a Google search indicates to me that somebody was just wordsalading a title for the video; the highest results that weren't a form of the video were various fantasy story-related hits; I'm reasonably certain that's a tarantula-family spider because I know my large spiders pretty well. ...Also, I have no idea what the video sounds like, so I apologize if it's something annoying or loud.)

Tarantulas, aside from being easy victims for wasps because of being large, slow, and having crummy eyesight, are also vulnerable to ants, since they're adapted to prey comparable in size to themselves (there's at least one species that's imperiled by invasive ants, and at least one other that's formed a friendly relationship with a food-sized frog because that frog eats ants; the two species live in mutual burrows, the frog keeping ants out while the tarantula protects the frog from comparably sized predators and even guards the frog's offspring), and have the further misfortune of being very slow breeders-a tarantula doesn't actually hit sexual maturity until it's about five*, which is an incredibly long time when you're a tiny animal that's preyed upon by so many other animals, the majority of which have better eyesight than you.

Actually, tarantulas are pretty harmless from the human perspective, other than the personal defense some species have that's built around expelling hairs that have little barbs on them; these hairs embed in people's skin and (if they're unfortunate) in their eyes, causing pain and irritation (I'm led to believe it's like a very painful itch). But they don't even do this unless they feel threatened, which shouldn't happen if they're being handled carefully, which is why they make nice pets (they also live as long or longer than many cats*, which is also nice for a pet owner).

*Tarantulas can get to reach their mid-twenties if they escape predation, making them easily the longest-lived spiders and among the longest-lived arthropods; scorpions also have fairly long lifespans. And then there's lobsters; science has not yet determined if lobsters actually have a limit to their lifespan not imposed by predation, i.e. they may actually be functionally immortal (in the sense of a "merely ageless" form of immortality).


No comments: