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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: How Spider Assassins Mimic Prey
26 October 2010 7:01 pm
Sometimes the spider becomes the prey. At least when assassin bug Stenolemus bituberus is on the job. The spindly-legged insect (pictured) lures arachnids to their deaths by landing on webs, struggling like entangled prey, and then eating the arachnids for dinner. To figure out how the deception works, scientists placed spider webs in a sound chamber and recorded the vibrations when an assassin bug, a falling leaf, a courting male spider, or one of two types of prey (vinegar fly or aphid) touched the web. Spiders' reactions to the assassins most closely mirrored those toward prey: turning, pausing, and approaching 65% of the time and turning but not approaching 35% of the time. However, the spiders never aggressively approached the assassin bugs, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The scientists think this reflects a deliberate tactic of the assassins. By making only short, low-frequency vibrations, the predators mimicked the struggles of small or exhausted prey, duping the spiders into letting down their guard.
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