huntsman_q003

do you see how jolly this avondale spider (molt) is?  i’m pretty sure she’s grinning from chelicera to chelicera… and i might even know why.  partly because i took this photo aaaaaaages ago and am finally posting it, but also for a more exciting reason: santa claus is bringing me tarantula molts for christmas!  long story short, one of my grad students was working with someone studying the genus Poecilotheria (arboreal tarantulas, how cool is THAT) and it came about that he had some molts he’d be interested in examining by SEM.  guess what–i can help :)  so they’re on their way, some large, empty, hairy skins of some of the most exquisitely beautiful (and sadly, at risk of extinction due to habitat loss) tarantulas i’ve ever seen.  i mean, look at this (borrowed from wikipedia here).  it’s BLUE!

File:Poecilotheria metallica.jpg

i’ll be looking at a few things on the molts including some systematic characters, which may even help understand this genus’ diversity a bit better–which could ultimately help in making a case for their, and their habitat’s protection.  i hope so!

i think 2014’s going to be a good year.  ::::)  all the best to you & yours!