The Epicadus heterogaster of Whimsy

Friday, February 08, 2008

In Colombia, whenever I stumbled upon a female Epicadus heterogaster (THOMISIDAE), I would stop and marvel at God’s infinite whimsy. Even a fairly diligent stumbler, like myself, will only see females, as the ladies may outweigh the gents by a factor of one hundred. The males stroll around their mate’s bodies with all the romantic status, I suppose, of body lice.

The females, meanwhile, try to pass themselves off as flowers, orchids specifically. Hence one of their common names: 'Flower Mimicking Crab Spider.' I know, you weren’t immediately put in mind of a corsage when you saw my photograph, but then, properly posed in a bouquet of similarly colored flowers, she only has to fool an occasional fly.

To the naked eye, they seem to have two eyes, due to the 'mascara effect.' Actually, there are eight eyes, four hidden in each of the two streaks of eye shadow. Charles Darwin thought he counted ten eyes when he captured one in Rio de Janeiro, in 1832. He records “Abdomen encrusted & with 5 conical peaks.” In my own mind, I remember it having three. Yet “The strange orchid-mimicking South American arachnid Epicadus Heterogaster (sic on the capitalized 'H') is commonly known as the Seven-Spined Crab Spider” I learned this as fact number 324 (out of 693), on a page titled “77 facts about the number 7.”

(Note this alternative: If your first language is Japanese, ‘カニグモ科’ may be translated back into English as "Seven-spinned Crab Spider").

The whimsy just keeps coming.

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That's a very nice spider. As opposed to their human counterparts, female spiders don't seem to mind having big bottoms. in fact they wear them decorated, and strut around.

caedmonstia said...
February 8, 2008 at 12:05 PM  

How is that any different?

I mean, some of those carnaval dancers you have down there ... :-)

Matthew Carroll said...
February 9, 2008 at 1:39 AM  

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