Texas Tarantula (Aphonopelma) 101108 pg 2

Texas Tarantula (Aphonopelma) Sarah P. Spring Branch TX HeadThe photo on the right shows the anterior carapace, the eyes, and the basal segments of the chelicerae (forward of the eyes) of this New World tarantula. The first segments of the pedipalps are on either side of the chelicerae; this is where the stridulating organ would be found if this tarantula possessed them (it does not). Old World tarantulas with stridulating organs use them to produce a loud hissing sound to discourage predators and for other purposes. The distal ends of the palps (not visible) are not enlarged in the male New World tarantula as in most other spiders, as their emboli (reservoirs for sperm, used during mating) are slender structures no larger than the palps themselves. They do extend beyond the distal palp, as the photo on the next page shows, and are helpful in  determining the sex of a tarantula.  The eyes are small and weak, and unsuitable for acute vision, but distinguish between light and darkness, and detect motion. To sense its environment, discern the presence and location of other tarantulas, prey, etc., tarantulas use enervated setae, or sensory hairs, distributed along their appendages; see Foelix (1996), ch. 4. The setae are variously sensitive to pheromones, touch, and other stimuli. The basal segments of the chelicerae are seen here as hairy, bulbous projections in front of the eyes. The tarantulas are mygalomorphs, an infraorder with claw-like, parallel chelicerae, vs. the more typical, opposing, scissor-like chelicerae of most spiders. These are fitted distally with hollow fangs used to inject venom. Foelix notes that of the 34,000 known species of spiders (now over 38,000, re: Ubick et al [2005]), only 20-30 pose a danger to man. Tarantulas are not in that group, though their venom is lethal for mice and insects.   NEXT PAGE ---- PAGE MENU:   1  *  2  *  3 

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