The Silkhenge Spider

Yithian

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Mysterious 'Silkhenge spider' is a master architect
Unidentified species from South America crafts an intricate circular fence with a central tower to protect its young.
MICHAEL D'ESTRIES
December 22, 2016, 6:42 a.m.

A little over three years ago, researcher Troy Alexander discovered something extremely unusual within the 678,000-acre Tambopata National Reserve in southeastern Peru. On the underside of a tarp outside of the reserve's research center, Alexander spied an tiny, woven circular picket picket fence surrounding a strange white tower.

After spotting three more of the structures on trees in the jungle, he decided to post a photo to Reddit in an effort to discover the name of clever species responsible.

The response back from entomologists the world over only deepened the mystery. To Alexander's surprise, no one had any idea.

"I've had some experts write me and say they don't have an expert opinion on it because it is so bizarre," Rice University ecology graduate student Phil Torres told LiveScience. Torres worked with Alexander to unravel the mystery behind the structures.

In December 2013, Torres led a team on an eight-day expedition to discover more of the structures and, with any luck, to spy the tiny architects behind them. Their big break came on a small island in the middle of a fish pond. There, on the trunks of bamboo and Cecropia trees, they found 45 of the circular creations. As they watched, a spiderling emerged from under one of the tall, white spires.

To their delight, the structures appeared to be an intricate protective playpen for spider babies.


Images & Video at link:
https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/mysterious-silkhenge-spider-master-architect

In a nutshell:
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oldrover

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Mysterious 'Silkhenge spider' is a master architect
Unidentified species from South America crafts an intricate circular fence with a central tower to protect its young.
MICHAEL D'ESTRIES
December 22, 2016, 6:42 a.m.

A little over three years ago, researcher Troy Alexander discovered something extremely unusual within the 678,000-acre Tambopata National Reserve in southeastern Peru. On the underside of a tarp outside of the reserve's research center, Alexander spied an tiny, woven circular picket picket fence surrounding a strange white tower.

After spotting three more of the structures on trees in the jungle, he decided to post a photo to Reddit in an effort to discover the name of clever species responsible.

The response back from entomologists the world over only deepened the mystery. To Alexander's surprise, no one had any idea.

"I've had some experts write me and say they don't have an expert opinion on it because it is so bizarre," Rice University ecology graduate student Phil Torres told LiveScience. Torres worked with Alexander to unravel the mystery behind the structures.

In December 2013, Torres led a team on an eight-day expedition to discover more of the structures and, with any luck, to spy the tiny architects behind them. Their big break came on a small island in the middle of a fish pond. There, on the trunks of bamboo and Cecropia trees, they found 45 of the circular creations. As they watched, a spiderling emerged from under one of the tall, white spires.

To their delight, the structures appeared to be an intricate protective playpen for spider babies.


Images & Video at link:
https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/mysterious-silkhenge-spider-master-architect

In a nutshell:
View attachment 10412
That's bloody remarkable. Thanks for posting.
 

Mikefule

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That's a remarkable thing. My first thought was that it would make the spiderlings more obvious to predators: a small bird could learn to look for the white henges and eat the eggs or spiderlings within. My second thought was, why is it that whenever anyone videos something remarkable, to put on the internet they keep saying "Oh my God, omigodomigod..."?
 

Yithian

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My second thought was, why is it that whenever anyone videos something remarkable, to put on the internet they keep saying "Oh my God, omigodomigod..."?
Because, lacking vocabulary, they ape the shrieks of the dominant animals around them, and, with tongues like dry clappers in cracked bells, ritualistically intone the same accursed ejaculations until even the name of their creator has become a hollow agglomeration of phonemes.
 

lordmongrove

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His voice and the way he keeps saying 'bro' set my teeth on edge.
 

EnolaGaia

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The newer video embedded with this Live Science article shows a return trip to locate silkhenges in the jungle. It doesn't add much to the previous articles / video except higher resolution images.

(Recommendation: Skip the intro fluff and jump straight to circa 3:15.)

Spider Architect's Intricate 'Silkhenge' Revealed in Stunning Video
https://www.livescience.com/57401-silkhenge-spiders-hatch-on-video.html
 

Sid

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The newer video embedded with this Live Science article shows a return trip to locate silkhenges in the jungle. It doesn't add much to the previous articles / video except higher resolution images.

(Recommendation: Skip the intro fluff and jump straight to circa 3:15.)

Spider Architect's Intricate 'Silkhenge' Revealed in Stunning Video
https://www.livescience.com/57401-silkhenge-spiders-hatch-on-video.html
As I see it, it seems as though the whole purpose of the silkhenges web build, is to protect the young spiders from water droplets (and also probably a variety of invaders). As the whole construction hangs downwards under a leaf, any water would simply follow the route along each of the downward pointing circular 'posts.' The interconnecting webs support each of the posts collectively.
The centre (thicker and taller) column along with it's structural web supports, would make sure that any water that gathered ~ either through droplets of rain, or from humidity from the jungle's air would simply slide down to the lower end point and fall away. And probably the density of the centre column would make it to a greater degree water-proof anyway?
 
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