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Spiders: Predators and Prey

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1C0082
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Head of an Assassin spider (Photo: Jean and Fred Hort, CC-BY)

There are spiders we all know from childhood: the itsy bitsy one, the one that scared Little Miss Muffet, and of course, Charlotte. Then there are the spiders well known by Hannah Wood, curator of arachnids and myriapods at the Natural History Museum.

Spiders have been around for more than 350 million years and there are more than 46,000 known species. Their evolution has helped illuminate basic principles underlying species diversification and trait evolution and change. Tonight, Wood discusses the natural history of spiders and introduces us to her specialty: assassin spiders.

Aptly named, these spiders evolved into highly efficient predators—of other spiders. Wood has studied them in places as far-flung as Madagascar and Chile and she talks about the development of their specialized predatory strategy, hunting techniques, and unusual physical characteristics, including enormous jaws. She also considers the evolutionary forces that led to the spiders’ method of survival.

From assassin spiders to jumping spiders, pirate spiders, and more, Wood puts a surprising spin on the story of a remarkable species.


National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Ave SW
Metro: Smithsonian