Monday, October 27, 2014
Prior to molting, a tarantula builds a silk nest and lies down on her back in the middle of it. She appears to be in her death throes, but then with almost impossible effort, she bursts her way out of the old skin, revealing a velvety, fresh new spider underneath.
For several hours after molting, the spider is totally helpless. Her new exoskeleton needs to expand and harden. Since spiders usually support their full weight on their legs, this is a problem; her legs are too weak to support her body. The tarantula must stay on her back until her legs are strong enough to support her body.
The lighter colored form, on the right, is Roslyn's old skin, lying empty beside her.
In related arachnid news, a newly discovered species of tarantula from the Amazon has been named after a Beatle. Imagine!