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Scientists have identified more than 44,500 spider species so far (for comparison, there are about 6,000 mammal species). Before you head out to see the 16 species featured in Spiders Alive! curated by Norman Platnick, curator emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology here are some amazing arachnid facts.
Spiders evolved more than 300 million years ago, long before dinosaurs walked the Earth.
Nearly all spiders have eight simple eyes—consisting of one lens and a retina—arranged in different ways. But, for the most part, they don’t see very well. In most cases, spiders use other senses, like touch and smell, to help capture prey.
Only about 50 percent of known spider species make webs. Others hunt their prey or burrow underground and one species, Argyroneta aquatica, lives underwater.
Many spiders care for their offspring. For instance, a female wolf spider may carry an egg sac containing her young for weeks. Once the spiderlings hatch, she hauls as many as 100 or more of them on her back for another week or so.
Learn more in the exhibition, Spiders Alive!