Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life, really?

"What is life, really? When the body dies, and the person dies, and the body is still there -- then, where did the life go?"

-- S.C., 8 years old


"What does the male contribute to the baby? I mean, why can't the females just provide both sets of DNA? What's the advantage?"

-- S.C., 8 yo

Did she sneak a peek at the textbook shelves again?

"Mommy, what does 'gestalt' mean?"

-- S.C., 8 years old

Thursday, June 24, 2010


June 19, 2010

"Awww! Mommy, they're so cute!"
-- S.C., observing the hundreds of spiderlings swarming on Miriam's abdomen

Miriam's babies have hatched! Miriam is a wolf spider -- a lycosid. Lycosidae are the only spiders which carry the egg sac by attaching it to the spinnarets. She may be a Hogna carolinensis. This species is common in the Miriam's home of origin, the southeastern US; Miriam seems to have the distinctive eye pattern of the Hogna genus, such that the center row of largest two eyes is just a bit wider than the bottom row of four tiny eyes; Miriam's body length is just over 1 inch, which matches the size range for H. carolinensis; and Miriam's brown-and-black dorsal coloring and black ventral coloring matches the pattern of H. carolinensis.

S.C. noticed and captured Miriam in our back yard, where's Miriam's presence was easily spotted: behind her, she carried a pearly white egg sac. Except for this egg sac, Miriam was otherwise well camouflaged in the grass.

When the spiderlings emerged a few days later, they crawled to Miriam's abdomen / prosoma, where they remain. S.C. was the first to notice. "Mommy, it looks like grey fuzz, but they're spiders, Mommy, baby spiders!!"

Together, S.C. and I have been reading about Lycosids and acquiring new vocabulary terms: chelicerae, pedipalps, opisthosoma (cephalothorax), prosoma, and more.