Goings-on

Australasian Arachnology – December 2018

Be sure to check out the new issue of the Australasian Arachnological Society Newsletter where I write about my 2016 50-day, 15000 km field trip!

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New papers – New species!

Alireza and I have a paper about flatties in the Middle East in the January issue of Zoology in the Middle East. We re-describe Selenops oculatus, a huge-eyed selenopid from Yemen, last collected in the early 19th c. and probably won’t be collected anytime soon due to the proxy war. We also described a new species collected by Octavius Pickard-Cambridge along the Nile; which we name after cats…because we like cats! Special thanks to Jan Beccaloni of the British Museum and Zoe Simons of the Oxford Museum as well as Vlada Hula for providing us with important material that allowed us to produce the paper.

I also described some new species from the Domincan Republic, bringing the number of endemic selenopids on Hispaniola to 13, surpassing Cuba, with 11. This was published in Zootaxa earlier this year.

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New species Selenops bastet from Egypt in honor of our cats! Here are two of them: Khan and Meezles!
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Text from OPC talking about magical selenopids.

Daily Planet – Discovery Canada – May 2018

Benji and I were on TV! I have never watched it and cringe at the thought. Benji and I dressed alike (his fault), and his mom said we were nerds. He said he watched it but was in a fugue state the entire time. You can watch it here: https://www.discovery.ca/Shows/Daily-Planet/video?vid=1400321

I hope you like it, but please never mention it to me.

Also, the show, which was on for 20 years, was cancelled soon after. Hopefully just a coincidence.

 

 

Finland = Funland – May 2018

In May, I went to visit Yuri Marusik and Alireza Zamani in Turku, Finland so we could talk about dictynids and selenopids in the Middle East, respectively. It was early May and the European Viper should have been coming out of hibernation around that time; however, the weather became colder and rainier than usual for that time of year and, alas, I did not see any. The Zoological Museum at the University is very nice. And it was nice to  meet the amazing arachno-legends Pekka Lehtinen and Seppo Koponen. I also made new friends: Anton Nadolny and Anne-Sarah Ganske. I also got to participate (have anxiety in a huge crowd, freeze, and drink champagne) for Vappu. Extra special thanks to Yuri for inviting me! It was a great, productive time. And I found new species of selenopids in the collection…of course!

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Critters at the Zoological Museum, University of Turku (ZMUT).
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Snow Leopard at ZMUT.
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Vappu. I am so, so cold. If you look closely, you will see that Alireza’s mustache is nearing an emergency situation.
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Crowd at Vappu celebration; I was reaching peak crowd anxiety, trying to keep some space about me. My puffy coat helped as most people weren’t close-standers and it provided a sort of extra buffer zone. Easier than taking BART in SF during rush hour. Also there is no free champagne on BART.
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Yuri, Anton and me. I can’t remember if this is the bar that is the old school or the old bank. Also I have no idea what was so funny.  Maybe that’s just how I smile in pictures.

Arizona Field Trip – April 2018

Erin Brandt let me join her on a field trip to help collect jumping spiders for her research…and of course allowed me to collect selenopids. Erin is a member of the Elias Lab at UC Berkeley where she works on jumping spider behavior and physiology.

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Member of the Selenops debilis group…still trying to figure out who’s who.
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Everyone loves jumping spiders…even when they are on poo.
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Javelina.

Colombia Field Trip – February 2018

I was fortunate enough to be sent by my supervisor Dr. Lauren Esposito to Colombia to work in the lab and conduct fieldwork with Dr. Eduardo Florez and students at the National University of Colombia, Bogotá. We did the most of our work in Lloró, Chocó. I got to see old friends, like Franklyn Cala-Riquelme with whom I’ve spent time with in Jamaica doing fieldwork and writing papers, William Galvis with whom I’ve worked on a few projects concerning selenopids (of course!) in Colombia as well as a paper on spiders of the ABC Islands published in the Journal of Caribbean Science, and Valentina Muñoz Charry, who I am also working with on a selenopid project (go figure!).

A few pictures are posted below, but to see more images from this trip, click here.

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Leaving Lloró to the field station.
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O hai!
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Jewel Caterpillar
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Scorpion under UV
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Me N Snakey Friend

New paper! – February 2018

Research I worked on with colleague Yu Zeng from UC Merced was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. This paper has received a lot of media attention due to the cool videos, but the research is also cool and has practical applications for bioinspired robotics. First, these spiders are one of the only animals that strikes from any direction (most animals strike in 1 or 2 directions only). Second, they can turn to strike faster than any animal on earth. Finally, the biomechanics behind the strikes has prompted me to examine additional avenues of research to answer questions about how other members of the same family strike, how other flat spiders that aren’t closely related strike their prey, how the animals see, whether they are using their large PLEs, and the neuromechanics of the strikes.

 

 

Utah/Idaho Field Trip – August 2017

In August, I did some collecting of Salt Flat Antlike Flower Beetles, Tanarthrus, collecting several species at Carson Sink, Nevada and Utah, including T. salicola shown below. Five species have been found at Carson Sink where they are easily collected using a UV light. These specimens will eventually be used for research I do on salt flats. You can see more photos from this trip here.

 

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Mostly midges and mosquitoes are visible here, but there were also several Tanarthrus beetles that came to the light.
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Tanarthrus salicola cruising around on the salt flats around Salt Lake.

We also met up with my sister, her husband, and my nieces in Idaho to watch the eclipse.

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THE ECLIPSE, Thornton, Idaho.
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My niece staring at the sun.