Eileen Hebets and the (scary spider from the) Goblet of Fire

Thu, 03/17/2016 - 12:47
Whip spider
Whip Spider

From the American Arachnology Society:

In JK Rowling’s book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” an arachnid is used to demonstrate the unforgivable curses. In the movie adaptation, the arachnid is a distant relative of spiders called a whip spider (order Amblypygi).

Eileen Hebets recently published a review of whip spider biology in the latest edition of the Journal of Arachnologywith Kenny Chapin from UCLA.

These biologists are happy to forgive the tortuous scene since, “apart from being eaten on Fear Factor, this is the most stardom a whip spider has ever received” said Chapin. Whip spiders, he explains, are a fascinating but poorly understood group of animals. Some species have nearly two-foot (0.6 m) legspans and live in cracks and crevices in caves and tropical forests.

Highlights from the article:

  • amblypygids can regenerate lost limbs throughout their lives
  • they can catch and eat moths caught on the wing
  • males use their large, spiny pedipalps to fight over females
  • courtship between the sexes can last 1 – 8 hours
  • amblypygid moms protect their eggs in a pouch under the body and carry the newly hatched offspring on top of their abdomens

The American Arachnological Society was founded in 1975 to further the study of arachnids, foster closer cooperation between arachnologists, and publish the Journal of Arachnology.