Liberal Arts Blog — Is There Such a Thing as a Cute Spider?
Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day
Today’s Topic — Is There Such a Thing as a Cute Spider? how about a cute snake? a cute cockroach?
Entomologists. Gotta love em. God after all had an inordinate fondness for insects. An obvious deduction from the simple ratio of the number of insect species (5.5 million) to mammalian (4000). Or the ratio of individuals of each category (10 quintillion to 130 billion). The mathematical facts are painful but incontrovertible. And when it comes to snakes there are about 3000 species, only 600 of which are venomous, and only 200 potentially deadly to humans. Let’s give it up for herpetologists! And don’t forget arachnologists! Spiders get such a bad rap. Don’t forget E.B. White’s Charlotte! and now Ophelia’s fan base is exploding! Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
HERPETOLOGISTS — who is in? who is out? why?
1. Herpetology is the study of both amphibians and reptiles.
2. Birds are reptiles. But herpetologists don’t study birds. Those who do have their own name: ornithologists.
3. Snake specialists are sometimes called ophiologists, or snakologists.
NB: Are you like Indian Jones — do you hate snakes? which ones in particular? Or do you have a pet snake? did you ever have one as a child? what kind? Apparently corn snakes (above) are one of the most popular pet snakes. But they look a lot like copperheads which are poisonous.
ARACHNOLOGISTS — experts on spiders and scorpions
1. Araneologist is an arachnologist who specializes in spiders.
2. Spiders are not insects. Insects have three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) and six legs (all on the thorax). Spiders have just two body parts\(cephalothorax and the abdomen) but eight legs (all on the cephalothorax). Insects have antennae. Spiders do not.
3. Spiders silk is 5 times the strength of steel of the same diameter, and one-thousandth the width of a human hair!
NB: “the world’s 25 million tons of spiders kill 400–800 million tons of prey per year.” (See first link below). Did you ever have a pet spider? a fan of “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White? Have you seen “adorable” Ophelia? The super cute “jumping spider”?
COCKROACHES: pets, pests, protein source
1. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is sometimes kept as a pet. They are among the largest (2 to 3 inches) and are wingless.
2. “About 30 cockroach species out of 4,600 are associated with human habitats. About five species are well known as pests.”
3. While the cockroaches in your house are full of bacteria and not to be eaten, cockroaches, like other insects, can be farmed under special conditions and eaten as a source of protein. China and Mexico are prime examples of places that cockroaches are farmed. The American cockroach, periplaneta americana, is apparently the most popular species for farming.
NB: Eating insects is called “entomophagy.” Does the sound of it whet your appetite? I’ve learned a lot of new words writing this post.
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to science, engineering, or technology. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to science and engineering.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.