A vegetarian spider
October 13, 2009 5:54 PM   Subscribe

A (mostly) vegetarian spider: "A small jumping spider has taken to hunting plants instead of bugs. Bagheera kiplingi dodges throngs of aggressive ants to feast on the leaf-tip morsels of acacia shrubs, making it the first mostly vegetarian spider known to science."
posted by dhruva (37 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a video of the spider dodging ants.
posted by dhruva at 5:55 PM on October 13, 2009


"Vegetarian" : [insert offensive native stereotype identity here] for "can't hunt."
posted by spacewrench at 5:59 PM on October 13, 2009


...the first mostly vegetarian spider...

The vegan spiders are gonna have his ass for lunch.

No, wait...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:04 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


When the two scientists discovered each other, they joined forces...

WOAH!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:08 PM on October 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


If that spider had bit Peter Parker instead of the radioactive one, he'd just become a hippie.
posted by qvantamon at 6:10 PM on October 13, 2009 [14 favorites]


I thought it ironic that it's named Bagheera! Since they found it in southern Mexico, I'll keep an eye out for it. And feed it flies, just to see what happens.
posted by dhruva at 6:13 PM on October 13, 2009


dhruva, I thought the same thing! How cool a name is that, anyway? Makes sense he was named in 1896.
posted by chihiro at 6:26 PM on October 13, 2009


Spiders are cool.
posted by darkstar at 6:35 PM on October 13, 2009


HEADLINE! Nature produces first approved PETA pit.
posted by Decimask at 6:44 PM on October 13, 2009


DAMMIT. PETA pet.
posted by Decimask at 6:45 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fascinating discovery. It's the spider equivalent of a panda (a vegetarian evolved from a carnivore group).
posted by binturong at 6:48 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


First there are spider that attack and kill birds, now there's one that can take out a tree?!

Dibs on the first rocket to spider-free Mars.
posted by DU at 6:51 PM on October 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


HA! Stupid spider is doing it wrong.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those retired Swiss arachnologists get all the babes, by the way.
posted by spicynuts at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2009


Ah, DU, some cat named Ziggy has some bad news about your escape plan.
posted by adipocere at 7:13 PM on October 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


omg for every disgusting bug this spider doesn't eat i'm gonna eat five lololol meat rulez!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Bagheera kiplingi

See also Akela, Messua, and Nagaina. Apparently the person who named all the jumping spiders was a big Kipling fan.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:25 PM on October 13, 2009


> the person who named all the jumping spiders

Some of them. They were named by George and Elizabeth Peckham. There's even a jumping spider society named in their honour.
posted by dhruva at 7:35 PM on October 13, 2009


This guy is awesome, although he's made a curious lifestyle decision. Rather than eating insects, he's just decide to annoy the heck out of them (the nasty stinging ants Pseudomyrmex, which if you believe the name, aren't even real ants) by bogarting their Beltian bodies. Then evading them constantly...
can't you just imagine his inner, arachidly monologue?(from the video)
"oh, sweet virtuous Beltain bodies, how i nom thee.... oh fuck, here comes those stinging bastards with the pincers and stinging... quick up on this leaf, then, uh, teleport over to this thorn and yes, away for now! ha ha! oh look, another Beltian body, a brief nom and then, ugh those damn ants are still here, if only I had some method of subduing or defeating them"
–raises venomous pedipalps tot the sky and shakes them in frustration.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


1. Spiders are awesome.
2. Nature, in all its diverse majesty, is awesome.
3. Jumping spiders are still more awesome yet. No, seriously. They are.
4. Jumping spiders that exemplify the awesome diversity of nature are, therefore, AWESOME3.

QED.
posted by lekvar at 7:43 PM on October 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


From my point of view (evolutionary geneticist conducting spider-focused research) one of the more interesting things about this system is the nutritional make-up of the Beltian bodies that make up approximately 90% of the diet of these spiders. Beltian bodies predominantly comprise proteins and lipids (fats)... which sounds not dissimilar to the nutritional components of, let's say, an insect.

If one were to anthropomorphise these beasties (which, of course, being a scientist I would never condone) you could say that these spiders have chosen to eat "tofu".

Now *that* is AWESOME :)
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 8:05 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whatever. You know when no one is looking, he eats an insect or two.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:07 PM on October 13, 2009


Well, who doesn't?
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:16 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, DU, some cat named Ziggy has some bad news about your escape plan.

I genuinely thought that was going to be something about an actual cat named Ziggy.

And it wasn't. And then I felt old. And I'm sad now.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:32 PM on October 13, 2009


The average Bagheera kiplingi eats up to 4 bugs in their sleep during their lifetime.
posted by dirty lies at 8:36 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


3. Jumping spiders are still more awesome yet. No, seriously. They are.

Living in Australia... we have some seriously dangerous critters... so from a young age you're taught to, for example, "tiger snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, if you accidentally almost step on one, then stand completely still and it will all be good. Er, move and you're dead."

So you're generally taught not to freak out over creepy crawlies.

I have to concur with the jumping spider = awesome thing. There's one currently living in or around my front door lock at the moment. She comes out to say hello every time I come home and I think this is totally awesome.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:49 PM on October 13, 2009


She comes out to say hello every time I come home

She's probably working with the cats to assassinate you. Be careful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:23 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Daily Mash has it's own take on the vegetarian spider.
posted by pharm at 11:54 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't they be calling it a vegan spider? Or a raw foodist vegan spider?
posted by Auden at 12:46 AM on October 14, 2009


that acacia plant is fertilized with dead animals.
posted by qvantamon at 4:12 AM on October 14, 2009


It's all a front for us to put our guards down. One day we'll be all "Look it's a veggie eating spider!" Then BAM! They'll attack. The End is Nigh.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:49 AM on October 14, 2009


A vegetarian jumping spider? Why? In case it needs to pounce on an unsuspecting grape?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 5:59 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, this just points to a flaw in Niven's law of intelligence and diet, which asks "How much brain power does it take to stalk a leaf?" The apparent answer is, well, some.
posted by strixus at 6:32 AM on October 14, 2009


And so, Senora Pseudomyrmex, we see again that there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away!
posted by gamera at 8:05 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why'd it take so long for the world to blow up about the existence of this glorious spider? I fired up Google News yesterday, and it was all "Vegetarian Spiders? Holy Shit!"

I stumbled across Mr. Cuteface Spider while doing research for a cart exhibit for BugFest 2008. It's true that I was searching for information about neotropical spiders, and jumping spiders in particular -- but at the time I ran across the articles about this adorable bastard, I wasn't researching with any particular intensity or focus. Just blahgooglespiderblah. The information was freely available.

I love that Daily Mash piece, though.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2009


I want one!

I shall name him Super Mario!
posted by orme at 9:22 AM on October 14, 2009


"Mostly vegearian," huh?

Can these guys get by without eating either acacia or bugs? Is it a whole lot of acacia on top of a normal diet of bugs? Is acacia just a side dish that they happen to really like, like me and my pile of mashed potatoes? Does acacia have any sort of pharmacologically fun effects on jumping spiders? Is that why they're so jumpy?

Also: Cats eat grass!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:06 AM on October 14, 2009


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