2019 sort session #11

spiny orb weaver on web between tropical trees

Gasteracantha cancriformis in Quito, Ecuador. Photo (CC BY-SA 4.0) by Ugosan. Click for source

My sorting yesterday focused on salvaging spiders from somewhat poorly preserved lots. One might wonder whether it was worth the effort, to work with partially degraded specimens instead of our recently collected material that’s still languishing in Whirl-Paks. Well, the material was collected by our own Stuart Frost in 1937, during a sabbatical in Panama and Ecuador. We’re putting together an exhibit on his life at Penn State, and this was a great way to connect to his legacy.

One specimen was a Gasteracantha specimen, like the one above, collected in Baños, Ecuador. Given what I’ve learned about this genus of spiders (*cough* Wikipedia *cough*) it is probably Gasteracantha cancriformis (Linnaeus, 1758). This species is broadly distributed in the New World, while pretty much every other species is Old World, often in restricted ranges. Spiders are amazing! And I bet this one didn’t kill four men. 😉

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