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Did You Hear about the New Species of Spiders Named After Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernie Sanders and Barrack Obama?

The new species of spiders have been named in honor of leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world

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Did you hear about the Bernie Sanders spider? (representational image) Pixabay
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Vermont, September 30, 2017 : What if we tell you that a team of researchers has recognized and named 15 new species of spiders in the Caribbean after your favorite stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders?

Not in Hollywood, Washington, DC or Vermont – but you might now be able to catch a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S, michelleobamaae, S. berniesandersi, S. davidbowiei along with S. leonardodicaprioi on the Caribbean islands and some other southern spots.

Ingi Agnarsson, expert of spiders and professor of biology at University of Vermont, who led the new study revealed the rationale behind the undergraduate study and on choosing the intriguing names. “(We) wanted to honor people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change—leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world”, he said.

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The Smiley-Faced Spider

Popularly recognized as a global hotspot for biodiversity, there continues to be several species in the Caribbean that are outside the spectrum of research and study. This includes the ‘smiley faced’ spider in the genus Spintharus- named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens.

Previously recognized as one widespread species, researchers from the UVM discovered that there exist many more endemic species within the genus, 15 of which have been recognized in the research.

These samples were collected from Florida, South Carolina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and Columbia.

Each team member got to decide names for the new species of spiders. Alongside naming them after friends and family members, many species have been named after distinguished figures.

“We all named the Bernie Sanders spider together,” said Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

Some of the other names include,

Spintharus davidbowiei

Named after the great artist David Bowie, who passed away in 2016. His music will continue to inspire generations and the authors decided to honor his legacy by naming a spider in his name.

Spintharus barackobamai

Named after the widely popular, and largely loved, former President of the United States Barack Obama. The authors love him for his statesmanship and humanitarianism, and named the spider species after him, to honor their president and his devoted service.

Spintharus michelleobamaae

Named in honor of the Former First Lady of the United States for her poise, confidence and elegance, her fight for human rights and for always striving to uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all.

Spintharus davidattenboroughi

The authors of the research also named a species of spiders after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to recognize and celebrate his efforts to educate people of the wonders of the natural world and sowing a seed of caring for nature in humanity.

The study has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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Dinosaurs evolved frills and horns to attract mates: Study

Selection makes many organisms evolve different attributes for sex. For example, peacocks maintain elaborate tails and fruit flies perform dances

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Dinosaurs' faces
Dinosaur. Wikimedia
  • The dinosaurs evolved frills and thorns to attract mates
  • Researchers found this especially true for the species Triceratops and Styracosaurus
  • These are called as ornamental traits

The elaborate frills and horns of a group of dinosaurs including Triceratops and Styracosaurus might have evolved to attract mates, not as a mechanism to recognise each other as earlier believed, says a study.

It has been suggested that different species that live in the same location may evolve features in order to distinguish one another to help avoid problems such as hybridisation, where two individuals of different species produce infertile or unfit offspring.

The specimens reveal that primitive mammals glided in air.
Dinosaurs evolved frills to attract males. Pixabay

To test this hypothesis the researchers from Queen Mary University of London examined patterns of diversity in the ornamentation of 46 species of ceratopsians, the horned dinosaurs, but found no difference between species that lived together and those that lived separately.

A previous research paper from the same university found that the frill in one ceratopsian species, Protoceratops, may have evolved under sexual selection. The new findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, appear to add evidence to this across the entire group.

“If sexual selection is indeed the driver of ornament evolution in ceratopsians, as we are increasingly confident it is, demonstrating it through different lines of evidence can provide a crucial window into tracing its effects over potentially huge time-scales,” said lead author of the new study Andrew Knapp.

Also Read: Fossil of Patagotitan Discovered in Argentina: The Heavyweight Champion of all Dinosaurs weighs 76 Tons

Selection makes many organisms evolve different attributes for sex. For example, peacocks maintain elaborate tails and fruit flies perform dances. The researchers also found evidence that ornamental traits seemed to evolve at a much faster rate than other traits.

“We have shown that species recognition, one of the commonest explanations, is unlikely to be responsible for the diversity or origin of ornamentation in this group,” Knapp added. IANS