Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Jumping Spider

An English professor here at Eastfield wanted her students to look at the world in a new way so she brought them to the SEM Lab to see how images are made.  She required each of her students to come to the lab and take at least three images that they would use for the basis of a story and video.  Pretty innovative and cool.

One of her students brought a jumping spider to the lab for imaging.  He spotted the spider on the trunk of a tree and tried to take its picture.  Interestingly, he soon found that this little spider was very good at staying on the opposite side of the tree.  Once the student got a closer look at the spider in the lab it was instantly obvious why this spider is so good at playing hide and seek.

Dissecting Scope Image
Full body view of jumping spider - yes, he is missing his second leg on the right side.

Dissecting Scope Image
What first caught our attention were the irridescent chelicera.  The student was quite amazed to see the large, forward facing eyes of the spider.

Dissecting Scope Image
Six of the spider's eight eyes are visible in this image.  The two large anterior median eyes, the two smaller anterior lateral eyes, and on either side of the head two posterior lateral eyes

The next two images are my favorites.  I tipped the spider face up to get a front-on portrait.  If you are a prey insect, this is the last thing you will ever see.

Dissecting Scope Image

Dissecting Scope Image

The following images were made with the scanning electron microscope.  As always, they are not in color because they are not made with light.  Not as pretty, but greater depth of field and resolution.

SEM Image [28x]
All eight eyes are visible in this image.  They form a big "U".

 SEM Image [35x]
Anterior eyes

SEM Image [21x]
OK, so I have a thing for spider faces.

 SEM Image [42x]
Well hello there!

SEM Image [52x]
Salticids, jumping spiders, have excellent vision and can see for several centimeters.  One of my spider books says that their behavior is very similar to that of cats.

This was a student's specimen, so I didn't do a detailed study with the SEM.  I was looking for unusual things that he might find interesting. (I also wanted to show you that I could take images that were not spider faces.)
 SEM Image [94x]
Jumping spiders are HAIRY!!  I love everything about this image of the leg of the spider.
Who would have imagined?

 SEM Image [320x]
This is an image of the anterior surface of the abdomen of the spider.  Honestly, I have no idea what the function of the scale-like hairs might be. 

I have always thought spiders to be among the most bizarre and interesting of animals.  The more I get to see them "up close and personal", the more intrigued I have become.

Eastfield College is dedicated to supporting STEM research by students at all levels.  I welcome your inquiries and comments.

Murry Gans
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab Coordinator
Eastfield College
Mesquite, TX

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