With a mirrorball for a body, Chrysometa tenuipes has nothing to worry about when it hits the clubs.
When the music is right and it’s feeling good (and its abdomen is smaller), the silvery guanine patches appear huge, shimmering and turning heads left and right.
When it’s time for a break (or when its abdomen swells up) the patches shrink, and a dull brown overcoat will help deter any unwanted attention.”
Want to see this critter for yourself? You’d be better off in the cloud forest of Ecuador’s Chocó region than on the dance floor. That’s where this one was discovered, on an expedition led by National Geographic grantee Nadine Dupérré.
Little is known about the diversity of spiders in Ecuador, but Nadine recently returned with a wealth of new information—plus photos of species never seen before.
The tiny blue-bottomed spider you see here is one of them. Though members of the Telemidae family can be found in many caves in the western United States, this is the first one discovered in South America.
How’s that possible? For starters, it’s less than a millimeter long. For finishers, it lives hidden in the moss of the aforementioned cloud forests.
Despite its small size though, it makes its presence known. The male will rub his hind legs on ridges on the underside of the abdomen to produce sound, though probably not a sound the average human can hear while walking through the jungle.
The beautifully terrifying specimen of the Micrathena genus below is more than ten times the size of the previous one! It is a true monster, measuring a spine-tingling one centimeter in length.
Lest you think you wouldn’t be fazed by an encounter, allow Nadine to describe the typical scene:
“This is an orb weaver, and it’s very common. They like the open places to build their webs, so when you walk on the trail you’ll walk straight through them. You won’t get stuck, but you’ll feel the web, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a chance to observe the spider herself.”
Micrathena females build beautiful orb webs nearly a foot across, in which they hang upside down in full daylight. They are not shy and like to pose for the camera to show off their striking spikes of various shapes and color.
Another tiny but spectacular discovery was a member of the Anyphaenidae family, sporting a bizarre, long, narrow, curvy abdomen.
This feature on other spiders is often said to be “worm-like” but hidden in the moss nearby was a caterpillar that bore a striking resemblance to the spider’s nether region. This “caterpillar-like” abdomen could serve as bait for a predator the spider likes to prey upon, but nothing is yet known for sure about the spider’s life or behavior.
Finally, if you’re wishing your own body were full of shimmery guanine, you’re in luck. It’s the “G” in the ACTG pattern of the DNA in every one of your cells.
(Though at best, the ability to harness it would probably only give you a Twilight-style glitter chest.)