Tag: Spiders

Australia’s vibrant and cute spider-form of sexy male peacocks

by on Nov.28, 2012, under Fauna, Information, Invertebrates, Uncategorized

Australia’s vibrant and cute spider-form of sexy male peacocks

 By Amy Prendergast

The male peacock is the classic example of how under sexual selection males have evolved spectacular gaudy adornments to impress choosy females.

Evolution of extravagant courtship displays and coloration signalling a male’s sexiness to seduce females is ubiquitous throughout the animal kingdom and is by no means restricted to birds. An epitome of sexual selection in favouring astounding male courtship displays and appearance occurs in peacock spiders. Whilst measuring a mere 5mm, like their namesakes, male peacock spiders are arguably even more outrageous when it comes to bright appearances and behaviours to entice the comparatively drab brown (yet well camouflaged) female peacock spiders to mate with them.

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Australian Tarantulas in Julatten

by on Jul.21, 2012, under Fauna, Information, Invertebrates, Media, Queensland

Australia’s largest spiders include the species Selenocosmia crassipes. This species is most often kept as a pet. However, many of the large pet shop spiders come from the north Queensland areas around the Cairns region and are incorrectly identified. They are likely to be un described species of the Asian genus Phlogiellus. Here is the burrow/tunnel webs system of a female. They are quite inoffensive to a point. In this region they associated with being under fallen timbers, that are largely undisturbed.

 

These spiders feed on invertebrates and sometimes small vertebrates. It is common to see Cane toads under the same logs and there seems to be a not predatory relationship.

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Geckos

by on May.12, 2012, under Fauna, Information, Reptiles

Geckos

Geckos are small reptiles belonging to the lizard family Gekkonidae. These little lizards are characterized by a suite of some truly amazing features and traits, which include:

  •  Caudal autotomy: as a defence strategy, geckos are able to ‘drop’ their tails when seized by a predator, leaving the predator with just a tail, whilst their owners, whilst tail-less, are free to live another day. The tail eventually regenerates but interestingly it is usually a different colour and less patterned than the ‘original.’

 

  •  Oviparous: all geckos lay eggs (rather than giving birth to live young). They have very small clutch sizes, most only laying clutches of 2 eggs. Some species (or populations of a species) are actually parthenogenetic: all of the individuals are female and reproduce asexually via a mode of reproduction akin to cloning, producing genetically identical daughters.

 

  •  Small, round scales: their body surface is covered by many tiny, rounded scales. These scales are not particularly thick and so geckos are soft-bodied reptiles and lack the heavily-armoured body surface afforded by heavily keratinized scutes like those of crocodiles.

 

  •  Adhesive toe-pads: geckos have amazing climbing abilities and many of you will encounter them on vertical window panes or hanging unfazed upside-down on your ceiling. Their remarkable climbing ability owes to how a gecko’s toes bear large disc-like pads at the toe-tips. The amazing adhesive properties of the toes result from how these toe pads (also called subdigital pads or scansor pads) feature many transversely expanded rows of plate-like scales, known as scansors. Each scansor is covered with tens of thousands of microscopic projections (setae), each of which in turn bears one or more spatulate-shaped projections (spatulae). The microscopic spatuale on the tips of the setae create a very large surface area on the toes which exploit molecular attractive forces  – known as Van der Waals forces – that enable them to grip to the smoothest of surfaces.  This mechanism differs from that seen in tree frogs whose expanded toe pads adhesive properties result from capillary adhesion relying on a layer of liquid between the microscope cells of the toes and the substrate. Rather, in geckos this system is a dry adhesive system (doesn’t require water) with the bonding strength resulting from molecular attraction between closely associated surfaces due to changes in the distribution of electrons (the Van der Waals forces).

 

  • Nocturnal lifestyle: almost all geckos are active during the night; during the day the escape the unwanted attention of predators and heat of the sun by hiding in crevices, burrows, under exfoliating bark, and in cracks in walls, trees or rocks. As an adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyle, geckos are characterized by very large eyes which have cat-like pupils.

 

  •  No eyelids: you’ll never see a gecko blink because they lack eye-lids! Instead the pupils are covered by clear discs that are periodically cleaned with the gecko’s tongue.

 

  • Carnivorous: Upon emerging from their daytime retreats, geckos prey upon flying insects, but also eat other insects and spiders, and larger gecko species may consume smaller geckos and other lizards.

 

  • Vocal: unlike many reptiles geckos have an extensive vocal repertoire, communicating frequently by emitting squeaks, buzzes, and chirps

 

Geckos have a cosmopolitan distribution, their range extending across the globe where suitable habitats exists. About 110 species occur in Australia. The charismatic little creature shown here, the Western Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus) is endemic to southwest WA, its distribution being restricted to the cooler regions of southern parts of the state.

 

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