Two weeks ago the horseshoe crab, a marine arthropod, was the topic of Partial Ellipsis of the Sun. This week, another member of the Chelicerata, the spider, will be the focus.
Besides the smooth transition from one arthropod to another, I was entranced by this recent large spider discovery from fine volcanic ash beds in Daohugou, China (in Inner Mongolia):
The giant Jurassic (201-145 million years ago) male spider's body length is 1.65 centimeters long, and its first leg length is 5.82 centimeters, the largest fossilized spider found to date (as of January 8, 2014). It was significantly different, according to researchers from the University of Kansas, from the female of the species, Nephila jurassica, to warrant an entirely new genus and family. Lots of room for discussion there! :-)
The researchers believe that this male spider is one of the first orbweaver spiders after a detailed look at foot claws, hairs and genital organs, using a Scanning Electron Microsope (SEM).
The full article featuring Paul Selden of the U of Kansas is linked here:
GIANT JURASSIC SPIDER IN VOLCANIC ASH
So, how to get to impractical jokes from this giant Jurassic spider? Via the Jumping Spider, of course:
Jumping spiders make up 13 percent of the entire air-breathing chelicerates. While the marine horseshoe crabs rely on external fertilization, air-breathing spiders use internal (but usually indirect) fertilization.
The jumping spider is likely the closest to what I was like after a very impractical joke involving the Jurassic time period.
I worked on an extensive project using aerial photography and Landsat imagery for one of our biggest clients, Amoco Oil Corporation. I wrote a very detailed 200-page, single-spaced, report on the geologic basin (in the days where we had secretaries to type everything from scratch, no computers of course, and no global replace feature).
The President of our company, Chuck, called me in one day and showed me a letter, written on very fancy, thicker-than-regular-paper AMOCO Oil Company letterhead. It was addressed to him and said something like: "On page 143 of your report we have just received, I see that Jurassic is misspelled as Jurrassic. Jurassic does not have two r's in it. I cannot believe such unprofessional work is coming to us from your company."
I was a bit concerned, as a newly-minted 23-year-old geologist.
"What should we do about this, Steph?" asked my boss, looking very serious. "Termination?"
It was only then that I heard the crowd of geologists laughing outside Chuck's door. One of my fellow geologist's girlfriend had gotten the AMOCO stationery from her work there and helped with the elaborate impractical joke.
Jumping Spider indeed!
How about you? What are some of the best practical or impractical jokes ever played on you? Did any of them involve words, spiders, or other arachnids?