The following is an article from the book Uncle John's Canoramic Bathroom Reader.
A lot of people think spiders are weird and creepy, but we think they’re fascinating. (And creepy.)
1. THE REDBACK SPIDER
(Image credit: Laurence Grayson)
The female redback is 50 times larger than the male— an important advantage during mating, when the females eat the males. While females eating the males after mating isn’t particularly unusual behavior among spiders and insects, what is unusual about the redback is that the female begins to eat the male during the act of mating, not after.
2. THE GOLIATH BIRD-EATING SPIDER
(Image credit: Snakecollector)
It’s the largest spider by weight, and the second-largest by leg span. From end to end, this spider is nearly a foot long. The name, however, is a misnomer— it could eat birds if it wanted to, but it doesn’t. It lives in the Amazon River valley and eats insects, and occasionally frogs or mice, paralyzing its prey with neurotoxins that come out of its inch-long fangs.
3. THE DIVING BELL SPIDER
(Image credit: Norbert Schuller Baupi)
Many spiders live, hunt, or mate on water some of the time, but the diving bell spider is the world’s only totally underwater-dwelling spider. It lives in ponds and shallow lakes across Europe and northern Asia. It can’t breathe underwater, though. It builds a bubble (like a diving bell) out of its own silk and fills it with air it gets from the surface, which it does by trapping tiny pockets of air in the hairs on its legs.
4. THE TWIG SPIDER
Stand on your tippy-toes and reach for the ceiling with both hands. When the twig spider stretches out the same way, it looks remarkably like— you guessed it— a twig. Any insect that lands on the harmless-looking piece of plant life, or crawls out onto it, will end up staying for lunch.
5. THE PEACOCK SPIDER
(Image credit: Jurgen Otto)
Like the bird they’re named for, male peacock spiders are covered in “plumage”— blue, red, yellow, and white stripes on the back and head. During mating, brightly colored flaps around the male’s abdomen expand like a peacock’s tail. He then raises two of his black-and-white (and hairy) legs upward, and does a side-to-side courtship dance (while vibrating its abdomen), trying to attract a female’s attention.
6. THE ANT MIMIC JUMPING SPIDER
(Image credit: Shyamal)
This spider conceals itself from predators and prey alike with its ability to constrict parts of its anatomy until it looks remarkably like a weaver ant. The female spider looks most like the ant; the male looks more like a large ant carrying a smaller one on its back. Real weaver ants have a painful sting, prompting predators to steer clear.
7. THE OGRE-FACED SPIDER
(Image credit: Geoff Gallice)
To catch its insect prey, the ogre-face weaves a mini web— or rather, a net— between its front legs. Then it waits above where its prey might pass (high in a tree, for example). When it does, the ogre-face drops its net on the unsuspecting target.
8. THE BIRD-DROPPING SPIDER
(Image credit: Fir0002)
A lot of birds eat spiders, and they’d probably eat the bird-dropping spider… if they could find it. This spider cleverly camouflages itself to look like bird poop— milky white with little black spots. Bonus: the spider feeds on moths by releasing a pheromone similar to one put out by mating female moths. When male moths come near, the spider traps them with its legs, then feasts.
9. THE SMILING SPIDER
What’s weird about this Hawaiian native is the unusual pattern on its abdomen. It looks like a smiley face. The abdomen is yellow with two black dots (eyes) above a red crescent shape (mouth). It’s also called a “happy-face spider.”
10. THE ASSASSIN SPIDER
(Image credit: Michael G. Rix and Mark S. Harvey, Western Australia Museum)
It gets its name from the fact that it hunts and eats other spiders. It’s also called a pelican spider because of one unusual un-spiderlike part of its anatomy— it has a neck. Fossilized remains of assassin spiders have been found dating back at least 40 million years.
11. THE RAVINE TRAPDOOR SPIDER
Unique feature: it has an odd rear end, larger than the rest of its body and flat on the end. The outsized, blunt-ended junk in the trunk has a purpose. The spider can crawl into a burrow and use its abdomen to seal off the opening from predators, like a cork in a wine bottle.
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Canoramic Bathroom Reader. The latest annual edition of Uncle John’s wildly successful series features fascinating history, silly science, and obscure origins, plus fads, blunders, wordplay, quotes, and a few surprises
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!