Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Eyes Of A Tarantula

©Bert Gildart:  I’ve been trying to learn everything I can about tarantulas, and certainly an  interesting aspects of the biology of these arachnids is their eyes.  This, then, is a continuation of my tarantula photographs, started yesterday with my first real find of a tarantula here in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I’ve been looking for these large desert creatures for almost a month and anticipate being able to use some of these images for various projects in the future.  By keeping long range projects in mind sometimes publications bunch up as they did this past year, resulting in Hiking Shenandoah National Park, Glacier Icons, and Montana Icons.


Tarantulas don't rely much on their eyes, rather on their feelers and the thousands of hairs which cover those feelers and also register vibrations.


But back to tarantulas… and as mentioned in my last post, tarantulas have eight eyes, and they are located a little differently from what one might expect.  Rather than being on the upper most part of their heads (where those slight knobs seem to be), they are located toward the very front and in the middle of their heads.  Here, in my pictures they almost look like dots of sand.


Immediately behind what appears to be a middle projecting antennae and a beard like collection of hairs is a light tan band. And then immediately behind that is a small cluster of dots, and those are the eyes.


To position them find the two short antennae jutting out from the two hairy protrusions that are in reality the upper part of their fangs.  Then, immediately behind those structures, look for the tan band that forms the first solid part of this animal’s head.  Immediately behind that you’ll see a black dot that is interspersed with a number of tiny white spots.  Those form a part of the tarantula’s eight eyes, the other portion located just to the medial  right.  Unfortunately, they’re caught up in a slight shadow created by my strobe.  In other words, photographing tarantulas can be a challenge.


The mouth of the tarantula is located ventrally and is highlighted by what appear to be two red lips. Here's also where the fangs are located.


Because sensory preceptors help the tarantula locate its food, I’ve also included here an image of this spider’s mouth, which appears to have red lips.  Here’s where the fangs are located, used very effectively on the grasshoppers and other bugs which it consumers.

Apparently all of these somewhat bizarre features work well for the tarantula, as they been using them for over a million years.  In fact, spiders are among the most successful creatures on Earth and have been around for over 300 million years.




*Tarpon Springs, Florida





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