It’s Just Plain Weird

Spiders Help Cool the Arctic

So, here’s an unusual chain of events—Arctic wolf spiders are getting larger. And as a result of the increased populations and increased population densities, the spiders have changed their eating habits.

Wolf spiders were known to eat a fungus-eating arthropod known as a springtail. But after populations were monitored over two summers, although it was expected that the larger wolf spiders would consume more springtails, the opposite was true. In fact, fewer springtails were eaten and it’s thought that the spiders were eating each other, or perhaps they discovered a different food source.

The effect of this on the Arctic tundra is that the increased population of springtails means that more fungus was eaten and so the rate of fungal decomposition is lowered, as is the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere and that all helps to fight climate change.

 

Girl finds “Excalibur”

As the legend goes, the dying King Arthur threw his magical sword Excalibur, into a lake where a hand emerged and took it below.

On vacation with his family, Paul Jones had just related this story before he and his children took a dip in Dozmary Pool, Cornwall—the very waters where the “lady of the lake” was said to have received Arthur’s sword.

Paul’s seven-year-old daughter Matilda, was standing waist deep in the lake when she said she could see the sword. Her dad told her not to be silly but then looked down to see the four-foot-long sword lying on the lake bed.

The sword Excalibur was said to be enchanted and could only belong to the rightful ruler of Britain. So perhaps Matilda should now be heir to the throne and the rightful Queen?

The Jones family decided that it was probably just an old film prop.

Tiny Tortoise First

Can you imagine the excitement? The spider tortoise is one of the world’s smallest and rarest tortoises and it is possible it can become extinct in the wild. But the Paignton Zoo in England have a breeding pair, an experienced keeper and an egg that’s about to hatch.

Based on his researches, keeper Andy Meek has tried to mimic the environmental conditions of the south west coast of Madagascar to help this little egg survive. Spraying with water to make it feel like a rainforest was one, a cooling period to imitate a dormancy time within the incubation period was another.

The single egg was monitored constantly and on April 25th, after a period of 180 days, a tiny tortoise was born. The adults can grow up to six inches long and live up to 70 years. They get their name from the designs on their shells.

This breeding success will help assure that the breed continues, if only in captivity.

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