Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bagheera kiplingi

Bagheera kiplingi
Today's animal is rather unusual-- it has an almost exclusively herbivorous diet, which makes it very unique among the 40,000 different spider species out there!

Bagheera kiplingi was only first discovered in 2008. It is a species of jumping spider that is native to Central America. Like other Jumping Spdiers, it possesses large eyes and the ability to leap large distances (as far as 50 times their body size). Unlike its cousins, however, it does not hunt its food.

B. kiplingi has figured out a way to steal nutritious protein and fat-rich nubs from Acacia trees. These nubs, called Beltian Bodies, are formed due to a symbiotic relationship between the Acacia tree and Ants. The Spiders ignore the Ants that guard the Bodies, and feed almost exclusively on the nubs. I say "almost exclusively" because the Spiders do sometimes feed on the Ant larvae as well, but it is a very small percentage of their diet.

B. kiplingi exhibits sexual dimorphism-- the males have a dark greenish cephalothorax, while the female's is reddish brown. Females also have much larger abdomens.

And for those who were curious, Bagheera kiplingi is named after the Panther in Kipling's The Jungle Book and Kipling himself. The Genus named was derived back in 1896 by George and Elizabeth Peckham. They named a handful of other genera after Kipling characters as well.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Central America
Size : Length around 2cm
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Arachnida -- Order : Araneae
Family : Salticidae -- Genus : Bagheera -- Species : B. kiplingi

2 comments:

  1. A vegetarian spider! Nature is just full of surprises...

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  2. This species is not newly discovered. It was named in 1896. Perhaps because the unique diet was "discovered" recently, this has led to some misunderstanding about what was discovered. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091012-vegetarian-spider.html

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