Would you like an office full of spiders - thousands of them? (Plus Harry Potter trivia!)
Posted by David Brooks | Monday, May 21, 2012
Spiders have, I fear, never been my favorite creature. I have to try very hard to overcome the "eek!" factor when I see them - which is too bad, because they're cool beasts in many ways. I was reminded of that this weekend when we were given a tour of the "spider lab" at Cornell while picking up my son.
The lab is run by Prof. Linda Rayor - this is her site. It's basically three interconnected offices filled with terrariums, holding literally thousands of spiders, from tarantula-ish beasts the size of an outstretched hand (some of them very beautiful - who knew?) to an entire room full of thousands of social huntsman spiders. Those are the world's only social spider that doesn't spin a web (they live under bark of trees) which makes them of great interest to arachnid fans.
The place was creepy and fascinating, and exactly the sort of astonishing collection that makes universities so wonderful - and so expensive to operate. I'm very glad I visited, although I'm also glad the terrariums were closed.
So what did I learn, aside from the fact that spiders can be pretty? That the spider "killed" by a curse in one of the Harry Potter movies wasn't a spider at all - it was another arachnid, called an amblpygi, a.k.a. whip scorpion. Further evidence that almost everything connects to Harry Potter in some way.