Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Made This Web?

Troy Alexander, a  young graduate student, found an entirely new type of web under a tarp near
the Tambopata Research Center located in the Peruvian Amazon.  Then he found a few more.
But when he tried to identify the creatures that made them, he found no answer so far. Not even
the scientists know. 

The web resembles a circular western horse corral surrounding and protects a tiny spire.  It is
about 0.8 inches (roughly 2 centimeters) across.  Alexander believes the spire either contains
eggs or perhaps tiny pupae.  Seeking answers, he posted photos of his find on Reddit, asking for
help in identifying the maker of the odd web.  So far, he has drawn a blank, even from well-
known arachnologists.  There were plenty of guesses, however.  Some thought it might be a
cocoon, others that it might be a new type of fungus, or a protective defense for spider eggs.

It is entirely possible that whatever made this strange form might be a previously unidentified
species of spider or other insect.  Experts believe that there are literally millions of unknown
species of arthropods (spiders and other insects) alone.  In a survey conducted in Panama’s
jungle, 25,000 species of insects and spiders, along with other arthropods, were identified.
Surveyors discovered that about 70% of these species were previously unknown.   

Based on the results of the Panama survey, insect specialists could have their hands full for years
in trying to identify and study these tiny jungle denizens. 

If you’d like to see a photo of this fascinating web, go here   

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