The miracle of life! Tarantula molting

Agnes molted! This was a very exciting time for us. A grad student in my lab and I sat, rapt with awe, for almost an hour as she slowly pulled free of her old skin (and old life!) and became a whole new spider.  It was truly like watching a birth (or a rebirth?).  Amazing.

If you don’t like photos of spiders, this post is, uh…not for you.  Go check out this owl and kitten instead.

For those of you who are fascinated by this…check it out!

IMG_4945

Check out those fangs!

IMG_4948

She hung onto the ceiling of the cage…the gravity helps with the molting process.

IMG_4954

The top of the cephalothorax pops off first.

IMG_4955

IMG_4970

Then the abdomen comes loose.

IMG_4973

IMG_4977

Aw…she’s so cute.

IMG_4981

IMG_4992

You can see the legs starting to come free here.

IMG_5000

IMG_5002

IMG_5006

IMG_5008

Chelicerae almost free!

IMG_5010

Hanging free…

IMG_5017

Then things started getting really exciting.  We were cheering her on the whole way.

IMG_5019

She looks like a dopey teddy bear.

IMG_5022

Some legs are free!

IMG_5027

Go, go, go!

IMG_5031

IMG_5034

Oof!  She did it!

IMG_5037

(yes, we do have plastic meese in this office, don’t judge)

IMG_5041

Ooooh, she says, what a day

IMG_5047

Brand new fangs!

IMG_5055

The old skin

IMG_5061

The next day, she was up and looking healthy again!

(If you look at all these photos in reverse, it looks like she’s either getting sucked up into her old skin, or she’s putting on a hairy jacket.)

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “The miracle of life! Tarantula molting

  1. She is magnificent. I am trying to imagine what it would feel like to grow a new skeleton and push out of the old. It sounds painful but creatures do seem to recover pretty quickly. What a treat to witness. Thank you.

    • Our skeletons are alive and growing, but their exoskeletons are dead chitin…instead of thinking of your skeleton, think of nails or hair. They can be trimmed painlessly. She starts forming a new exoskeleton beneath the old one but it is soft while she’s molting, so she’s been pulling away from the old skin for a while before she sheds it. The main problem is that she is very vulnerable in her soft new shell.

  2. Wow, so cool! Just showed my kids this. What a treat to observe this very handsome tarantula molt.

  3. Pingback: My Sweet One | standingoutinmyfield

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: