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This posterior lateral spinneret, a silk-spinning organ of a spider, features frond-like setae and whorls of exoskeleton. It belongs to a female Stenoops peckorum, a newly discovered species of goblin spider from southern Florida.
This species was among 17 new species of goblin spider discovered in 2010 by Norman Platnick, the Peter J. Solomon Family curator emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.
Despite their fearsome name, goblin spiders are tiny. They tend to be less than 2 millimeters in length. The spinneret pictured above is approximately 30 micrometers across, roughly the diameter of a thin strand of hair.
The five protrusions at the center of the spinneret are spigots that produce a single type of spider silk. The silk, sometimes in combination with silk from other spinnerets, can be used in any number of ways, including reproduction or navigation, but not for a conventional prey-trapping spider web.
“All spiders do make silk, they just don’t always use it to catch food,” says Platnick. Instead, goblin spiders hunt down and devour whatever small insects they can catch.
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Celebrating decades of groundbreaking exploration in East Africa, renowned paleoanthropologists Donald Johanson and Richard Leakey shared the stage at the American Museum of Natural History on May 5 to discuss the overwhelming evidence for evolution in the hominid fossil record and why understanding our evolutionary history is so important. The discussion, before a sold-out crowd in the Museum’s LeFrak Theater, was moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN. The event was also live-streamed on amnh.org to a digital audience of several hundred viewers around the country.
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Entomologist Gene Kritsky, author of The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture, will join beekeepers Richard Blohm and Carl Flatow for a discussion about urban beekeeping at this month’s Adventures in the Global Kitchen on Wednesday, May 11. He recently answered some questions about apiculture.
What is the earliest historic record of beekeeping, and where did it originate?The earliest historic record of beekeeping is from the Fifth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. This relief, which is in the Neues Museum in Berlin, shows the taking of honey from horizontal hives, extracting the honey from the wax, and sealing in jars.
The oldest known beehives date from 900 BCE and were found in the ancient city of Rehov in Israel.
What significant innovation vastly improved beekeeping?
The most important innovation in beekeeping was the incorporation of the “bee space” in hive design. The “bee space” is the space that is too far apart for bees to glue shut, but too narrow for them to bridge with comb. This design permitted the development of a hive with moveable frames, which led to significant increases in honey production per hive.
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In the world of cutting-edge robot design, scientists are looking to biology and nature for inspiration. In this podcast, join Professor Dennis Hong, director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech, as he describes some of his more fantastic robots.
The talk was recorded at the Museum on April 6, 2011.