Tuesday, 13 Oct, 2009 Science

World's First Vegetarian Spider Discovered


Recently scientists discovered that a spider known as Bagheera kiplingi that does not eat meat like all the other spiders, instead it is the first vegetarian spider out of 40,000 known spider species. The tropical spider mostly consumes plant buds.

The name of the spider comes from a panther in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." It was given in the late 19th century. According to Christopher Meehan, biologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, back then biologists did not know what the spider ate because they found a tattered dead specimen. However, if they named the spider Bagheera kiplingi, it is possible that they knew they found a species of a jumping spider that had cat-like movements.

The National Geographic website informs that in the period between 2001 and 2008, a team of biologists led by Meehan, examined the spider in its tropical habitat, found in southeastern part of Mexico and northwestern part of Costa Rica.

Scientists noticed that the spider consumed nutrient-rich buds growing on acacia plants. It is worth mentioning that the acacias represent the home to a species of ants inhabiting the plants' hollow thorns. These ants aggressively protect the plant to maintain their shelter and preserve food. But the Bagheera, is a stealthy and fast spider that figured out a way to leap from one thorn to another and gather its meal, thus being able to avoid the ants. Meehan said. "It is utterly surreal to see a spider use such effective hunting strategies to hunt a plant."

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