Discovery: Bernie Sanders spider

From Eurekalert

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IMAGE: This is a female Bernie Sanders spider — Spintharus berniesandersi — in a lateral view. Composite photo created by undergraduate students in Ingi Agnarsson’s laboratory at the University of Vermont…. view more Credit: Agnarsson lab

A scientist at the University of Vermont and four of his undergraduate students have discovered 15 new species of “smiley-faced” spiders–and named them after, among others, David Attenborough, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

You won’t find them in Washington, DC, Hollywood, or Vermont–but on Caribbean islands and other southern spots you might now get a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S. michelleobamaae, and S. berniesandersi as well as S. davidbowiei and S. leonardodicaprioi.

“This was an undergraduate research project,” says Ingi Agnarsson, a spider expert and professor of biology at UVM who led the new study. “In naming these spiders, the students and I 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.”

The study was published September 26 in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

 

WHY BERNIE?

Until now, the beautiful, yellow, smiley-faced spiders in the genus Spintharus –named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens–has been thought to have one widespread species “from northern North America down to northern Brazil,” Agnarsson says.

However, when a research team from the Caribbean Biogeography Project (“CarBio”)–spearheaded by Agnarsson and Greta Binford at Lewis & Clark College–examined spiders from Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, Florida, South Carolina, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia–they discovered that one widespread species was actually many endemic species. Using CarBio genetic work, and the Vermont students’ painstaking photography and lab work, the team–with support from the National Science Foundation–was able to identify and formally describe fifteen new species. “And if we keep looking, we’re sure there are more,” Agnarsson said.

Each student who helped describe the spiders also got to name a few of them–and some were named for beloved family members, “but we all named the Bernie Sanders spider,” says Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project, and who graduated from UVM last year. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

“That spider species will be named after Bernie forever,” says Ben Chomitz, another of the student researchers.

“Our time on this earth is limited,” says Lily Sargeant. “But I think that ideas are not that way. It is my hope that through naming that spider after Bernie we can remember the ideas that he has at this pivotal point in the life of our nation.”

For student Chloe Van Patten, her naming process goes back to what she calls a high school “obsession” with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “I’m over my crush, but now that he’s involved in environmental issues, I love him even more. So I named a spider after him hoping that if he read our study,” says the recent UVM graduate, “he might go out to dinner with me and talk about climate change.”

 

CONSERVATION CONCERNS

The Caribbean region has long been known to scientists as a major global hotspot for biological diversity. The leading spider expert on the Spintharus genus in earlier decades, Herbert W. Levi (1921-2014), had concluded that differences he observed in these spiders across a wide swath of geography represented variation within one species. But newer molecular techniques deployed by the project’s leaders, Agnarsson and Binford, show otherwise. “These are cryptic species,” Agnarsson says. “As Dr. Levi’s work clearly showed, they’re hard to tell apart by looking at them.” But the DNA data are clear: these spiders have not been interbreeding–exchanging genes–for millions of years.

“Thoughts about conservation change dramatically when you go from having a common, widespread species to an endemic on, say, Jamaica that has very specific conservation needs,” Agnarsson says.

“All the sudden we have fifteen-fold increase in diversity in this particular group–just because we did a detailed study,” says Agnarsson. “That tells us something about biodiversity in general. The more we look, the more we discover.” Conservation biology, the team notes, fundamentally depends on good taxonomy, since preserving one widespread species is a radically different task than protecting the precise habitat of a genetically isolated, local species.

The Vermont students saw their lab work in a broad cultural light. “I’m a second-generation American and I’m black,” says Lily Sargeant. “It is through a diversity of perspectives that we achieve innovation in science and I appreciate how much the Obamas value diversity.”

“Here’s the thing,” says UVM scientist Ingi Agnarsson, “we need to understand and protect biodiversity in its many forms, and we felt compelled to recognize leaders that understand this.”

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193 thoughts on “Discovery: Bernie Sanders spider

    • It reminds me of the story about George Washington Carver. Some students of his glued up pieces from several different insects and presented it as a stumper to the gentleman. He asked them if it hummed when alive and they said yes. “Obviously, it’s a humbug” replied the esteemed scientist. So, undergrads, lots of free time, boring study…what trouble could they possibly concoct?

      • So how long has scientific naming of species been a political act ?! Next the rattus beelemitus baccilus occupus , I suppose.

        Just in case anyone had any doubts about the objectivity of science … thanks for the warning guys.

    • “….understand and protect biodiversity in its many forms, and we felt compelled to recognize leaders that understand this.”….

      There isn’t a single “leader” on our planet who recognizes Science…

      Let’s start with the obvious…

      • “There isn’t a single “leader” on our planet who recognizes Science…”

        And none of the names chosen were leaders.. so that’s fair.

        As appropriate, many of those chosen as namesakes are smiley faced spiders. !!

      • I find it quite appropriate that those names would be applied to the creepiest creatures which crawl this planet. They forgot the Mann spider which is spinning a more and more tangled web of illusion.

      • I resent applying those blood-sucking names to spiders, even though they do practice external predigestion.

        They are fascinating creatures and the world is better off for having them in it, IMHO.

  1. A recently-graduated UVM student says “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

    Ahhh yes, the socialist dream: the hope is Bernie takes money from someone else and gives it to them.

    • The politics of these ‘students’ is reflected in their choices of names. I’m very concerned for the future of the US with with people like this graduating from our centers of ‘higher’ indoctrination.

      • Don’t worry about it. They’ll be looking for fast food jobs when they graduate. Oh wait, those jobs will be replaced by robots that are cheaper than the $15/hr minimum wage the socialists are advocating. Guess it’s back to Mom & Dad’s basement and the free food, wifi, etc.

      • Yes, indeed! Walmart upped its hourly rate for employees, but at the same time, installed self-checkout centers in all its stores. So many jobs… pffft! Right down the tubes.

      • When I was a kid, fast food places had the drink machine behind the counter, and if you wanted a re-fill you had to pay for it.
        Shortly after a big minimum wage increase went into affect (back in the 80’s if I remember right) drink machines started moving to the front of the counter, and when you bought a drink, they just handed you a cup.

    • Sanders presents the feeling of hope but the actuality of futility. Sad. (Also, is it just his wife, or is he also under some kind of cloud for that college that got run into the ground?)

      • Like any good pol, Bernie always keeps a large spray can of Teflon nearby.
        He will continue to be re-elected (by the Red North) until they carry him out feet first.

  2. This is a disaster. Now they can say that any tiny population is different and has to be protected. We won’t even be able to walk on the street for fear of crushing an endangered species.

    • This appears to have been essentially a well orchestrated vacation. This is a well known tactic of the eco-extremists. Sub-divide species so that we can call them threatened or endangered. If we applied the same level of logic to humans, we would have hundreds of separate species.

      But, it got them a vacation in the caribbean, a published paper, and mention in the news cycle.

      • Likely orchestrated from the beginning premise.

        They went looking to show a single species is multiple (based off what? a guess?), the locations were near resorts (vacation?), and the naming scheme screams “politically motivated research”.

        We’re never getting back to the Moon…

      • Jeff: Yes, I often mention if the same methods and logic were applied to humans, we would have hundreds of species of humans. We also would have threatened human extinction frequently, since biologists and alarmists claim that when an animal is not found were they thought it should be, it’s on its way to extinction. Humans move around so much, there would be a constant threat of extinction. It makes no sense at all.

    • I would seriously question whether these are distinct species, or merely a sub-class such as a distinct breed.

      Breeds are not new species, but are diverged somewhat from the trope. I posit that the divergence is due to geographic isolation of the various groups. The researchers need to determine whether these spiders can interbreed and produce viable offspring, that is the differentiation between species and breeds. Types of dogs are breeds, not distinct species. They can and will interbreed, much to the consternation of breeders and the general public. Humans have been pursuing this path since domestication of livestock. Only through separation (man-forced or otherwise) have the animals diverged slightly in outward appearance.

      • “But the DNA data are clear: these spiders have not been interbreeding–exchanging genes–for millions of years.”

      • DonM,
        “What do you get when you crossbreed a Bernie Sanders with a Leonardo Dicaprio?”

        A mutt.
        But, according to these “researchers” you’ll get an “entirely new species”!
        If these spiders had any intelligence they might be offended to have been associated with these names.

      • If they try an Obama-Obama hybrid, the males (as a separate sub-species, of course) may very likely end up as hoodiewearnskittleatersi.

    • Bob…100% correct
      “All the sudden we have fifteen-fold increase in diversity in this particular group”

      ..they still have exactly the same amount of spiders….only now they have 15 endangered species

      • Which flies in the face of any assertion that follows “Half the species on earth…”

        Half of how many? With 15 new ones being declared has this thrown off the statistic, or merely proven its inanity?

    • yeah i though the same
      enables a whole lot of near rare species claims on anywhere they want to say they found one….

  3. Let’s hope the spider promises universal access to health care for the only advanced nation that still hasn’t got it.

    • Every one already has access to high quality health care.
      Unless you are one of those people who declares that access must also be free. (Meaning paid for by someone who works for a living.)

    • Yes we have universal health care here in the UK, but don’t expect to actually receive said care today. Or tomorrow. Or even next week. There’s a queue as there always is with socialist provision of goods and services.

      • UK? Universal healthcare?

        Actually, I guess so. Illegal aliens are allowed free healthcare, thereby bunging up the system, so why not Mr. Spock, the Klingons, Romulens and, of course, the Kardashians?

  4. I wonder what percentage difference in DNA between spiders decides whether one is a new or different species? One percent? Half a percent? A quarter percent? Few people understand that the idea of species is a totally artificial human construct in order to help humans sort out the world. Look up the traditional definition of “species.” While our ability to define, to map, the DNA of individuals and species has dramatically increased we still have sorted out how that actually defines a individual species.

      • Yes, I agree, we should allow the poor spider to declare itself species neutral, if it so chooses.

        Forcing an identity upon it based on traditional values is so shortsighted and insensitive to its needs.

    • The traditional method of determining the differentiation into species is the inability to interbreed and produce viable (sexually productive) offspring. Evidence indicates that limit is about 2% chromosomal difference. Horses can and do mate with donkeys, but the offspring are sterile mules.

      • What about dogs and wolves or dogs and coyotes? Don’t those crosses produce viable and breedable offspring?

      • Rhoda,

        Dogs and wolves are the same species. Coyotes are considered a different species, but hybrids are fertile.

      • Rhoda, you are correct. This is why dogs follow the traditional naming scheme of canis lupis familiaris, being a subspecies of wolf. The coyote was named later, as canis latrans, using a newer scheme. Now coyotes are quite clearly the same species as well, given the large number of coyote/wolf hybrids in the wild, but are kept separate for reasons that make no sense to this engineer.

        Rocket, the current delineation is not only whether two species can interbreed, but whether they do so regularly. There seem to be plenty of other criteria which has lent to an enormous explosion of species counts, especially with insects, many of whom are identical for any and all practical purposes.

      • Scientist,

        Do you mean chromosomal, genes or whole genome difference?

        In chromosome number, horses and donkeys have about a 3% difference. A mule gets 32 horse chromosomes from mom and 31 donkey chromosomes from dad for a total of 63 chromosomes. (A horse has 64 chromosomes and a donkey has 62).

        Humans have 46 chromosomes, while all the other great apes have 48. But chimps, gorillas and orangutans are not only different species but placed in different genera. Humans and chimps are only about one percent different in genes (sequences coding for proteins), around two percent different in chromosome number and four percent in whole genome (which includes “junk” and control sequences).

        However human chromosome Number Two results from a fusion of two smaller, standard great ape chromosomes, so in effect our chromosomes are the same as those of the other great apes.

      • Ben of Houston September 27, 2017 at 10:07 am

        The dog-like canids all have 78 chromosomes, even the most divergent species, the African wild dog, which is placed in its own genus, as is the dhole, separate from Canis (which includes the golden jackal). The “maned wolf” however has only 76. Most bears have 74 (not the spectacled). Foxes vary.

      • …and it depends on where you are in the ‘splitter to lumper’ spectrum. Lumpers are the biologists that say if it interbreeds, its the same specie. Splitters try to find every possible variation to justify declaring new species (which the Lumpers might allow as subspecies or race). Splitters write more papers, and as they focus on smaller (and thus more ‘threatened’) populations, tend to get more grants.

      • Let me fix that for ya, Willy;

        *However human chromosome Number Two hypothetically results from a hypothetical fusion of two smaller, standard great ape chromosomes, so in my imagination our chromosomes are the same as those of the other great apes.*

        Keep it real, folks, I suggest.

      • JohnKnight September 27, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Nothing imaginary about it.

        There is no other way to explain human chromosome #2 except by fusion. I’d like to hear your alternative scientific explanation for these facts:

        1) Its apparent centromere consists of two telomeres attached end to end;

        2) Each half of the chromosome above and below this pseudocentromere has a real centromere. and

        3) Its genes fall away from the psuedocentromere in the same order as those on the two smaller chimpanzee chromosomes.

        Good luck with that alternative explanation.

        As for the other chromosomes, chimps, gorillas and orangutans not only share the same ones, but they have the same genes on them in the same order, or mutated versions thereof.

        Sorry, but those are the scientific facts. Do you have an alternative explanation besides common descent with modification and fusion?

        So your “fix” is antiscientific, counterfactual nonsense. Observed reality shows your gibberish wrong.

      • JohnKnight,

        Apparently reality isn’t your bag. It looks as if you can’t handle the truth, that is, objective reality.

        So where do you get off telling “folks” to keep it real, when you’re totally clueless?

      • “Nothing imaginary about it.”

        If you didn’t observe it happen, Willy, you must have imagined it happening (whether or not it actually occurred), right? That much IS imaginary, at least.

        “There is no other way to explain human chromosome #2 except by fusion.”

        Are you claiming to be omniscient, sir? If not, you should stick a “that I can imagine” (or “accept”), or something in there, to be perfectly clear, it seems to me.

        “I’d like to hear your alternative scientific explanation for these facts: …”

        Scientific explanation? You tested this somehow? . . When is the Nobel prize to be announced? ; )

        “1) Its apparent centromere consists of two telomeres attached end to end;

        2) Each half of the chromosome above and below this pseudocentromere has a real centromere. and

        3) Its genes fall away from the psuedocentromere in the same order as those on the two smaller chimpanzee chromosomes.”

        Well, how exactly can you rule out the possibility that the “human style” arrangement of that chromosome didn’t come first (in some long gone ancestor we eventually evolved from) and being what it was, the chromosome split at some point, non-fatally, and the apes are the descendants of the creature that resulted? (for instance).

      • John,

        We do observe that the chromosome is fused. It is not “imaginary”. It is the only possible scientific explanation for the observations.

        I don’t claim omniscience. But the goal of science is to explain observations of nature. Ever since this discovery was made in 1991, the conclusions of the original researchers have been repeatedly confirmed by new observations. That is how science works.

        Of course it’s a scientific explanation. Read the original paper. Maybe you don’t get it because you don’t know about chromosome structure. The conclusion is inescapable.

        Origin of human chromosome 2: an ancestral telomere-telomere fusion.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC52649/

        Copernicus couldn’t see earth going around the sun, but his inference that it does was later shown correct by direct observation. That’s how science works.

        That you can’t offer an alternative explanation shows that you just can’t get real.

        Your unsupported supposition is easily ruled out and shown false.

        “Well, how exactly can you rule out the possibility that the “human style” arrangement of that chromosome didn’t come first (in some long gone ancestor we eventually evolved from) and being what it was, the chromosome split at some point, non-fatally, and the apes are the descendants of the creature that resulted? (for instance).”

        The telomeres and centromeres of the other great apes’ two separate chromosomes are intact. Those in the fused chromosome are degraded. Besides which, in your hypothetical, chimps, gorillas and orangutans would have to have evolved from humans. All other evidence shows that this is not the case, but rather that humans and chimps share a common ancestor, that the human-chimp group is more closely related to gorillas and that the African great apes are yet more distantly related to orangutans. The only possible inference is that human chromosome #2 resulted from the fusion of two smaller great ape chromosomes.

      • John,

        I forgot to mention another fact, because it’s so obvious but might not be to you.

        Telomeric and centromeric sequences are different, so the pseudocentromere couldn’t have once been a real centromere. Its sequences are characteristically telomeric, so the fuse chromosome could never have been a single one which split apart at its centromere.

      • “We do observe that the chromosome is fused. It is not “imaginary”.

        I disagree, and say you simply don’t fully grasp/recognize the difference between observing in the external sense, and “seeing” in the internal sense (imagining). T

        To illustrate, I am completely convinced that Issac Newton ate many a meal, but that does render my imaginings of him doing so (even if true as true can be); observations of him doing so. For that, I would have had to be there . . and you were not there when this chromosome first arose (for one thing), so could not have observed it “fuse”.

        Now, if you were omniscient, I suppose that would be different ; )

        “So your “fix” is antiscientific, counterfactual nonsense. Observed reality shows your gibberish wrong.”

        BS . . if chromosomes can fuse (and logically therefore split), it is not possible to know with certainty that they didn’t at any number of points in the past . .

      • John,

        The BS is all yours. You’re being intentionally obtuse.

        The observational fact is that the chromosome is fused. It has two telomeres (end caps) end to end. The sequences are characteristic of telomeres. Hence, that the chromosome is fused is an observation, as well as an inference.

        Yes, chromosomes can split, and even translocate, as in Down’s Syndrome. But you keep missing the essential, unavoidable fact that this chromosome could not possibly have given rise to the two smaller ape chromosomes by splitting, as per your hypothetical, fact-free supposition.

        In that case, the two smaller chromosomes of the other great apes would have centromeric sequences in place of telomeres at their ends. That is not what is observed. The only conclusion consistent with observations is that two standard great ape chromosomes fused at their ends, because that is what is actually observed.

        Human chromosome 2 looks like this:

        I was mistaken as to discovery date. The 1991 article just delineated the telomeric sequences in greater detail.

        I hope those images post.

        It is simply perverse not to recognize an inescapable conclusion based upon direct observation of nature.

      • John,

        BTW, the wearing down of telomeres with age is strongly implicated as a major cancer cause.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telomere

        The end caps are supposed to protect against fusing, but it is often observed nonetheless. Gross chromosomal abnormalities, ie fusion, fission and translocation, are important mutations in eucaryotic organisms.

        In the human case, the Number Two fusion proved highly beneficial, as it’s associated with upright walking. The translocation that causes Downs Syndrome is obviously deleterious, except that its sufferers are often such loving and lovable people, but don’t live long.

      • “The observational fact is that the chromosome is fused.”

        I disagree . . it’s what you imagine happened . . obviously, I say.

        Are you proposing that it is not possible for any chromosome to have split into two chromosomes (non-fatally) at any point in the past? As in, some absolutely have “fused”, but absolutely none ever split? How could you possibly know such a thing for fact? ???

        Now, if it’s not a fact, and splits have occurred, then what would the components you refer to appear like as they were evolving toward the split? How could we tell the difference between “degraded” telomeres and centromeres. etc., and incompletely formed ones?

        “Besides which, in your hypothetical, chimps, gorillas and orangutans would have to have evolved from humans.”

        Say what? Why? What if the split occurred way back (as I proposed), and we are the only remaining creatures with the original configuration? (We would not have been humans, of course, but just something that would eventually evolve into humans . . ) and the apes have diverged since the split?

        Now, I can understand thinking that is less likely than the current consensus view, but I cannot understand thinking it’s impossible . . and continuing to call this science. It’s just people treating what they feel most likely right now, as if absolute truth, it seems to me . . and if that’s all it takes to be rightly called science for you, it would be all it takes to be rightly called science for the climateers too, wouldn’t it?

        That’s why I spoke up to begin with.

      • John,

        You keep not getting reality. This has to be intentional, willful ignorance.

        Never, ever have I said that chromosomes can’t split. It’s rare, but they do. But in this case it is simply flat out impossible that human chromosome 2 split to form the two smaller great ape chromosomes. End of story.

        Why can’t you get the simple fact that at the center of human chromosome 2 are two end to end telomere sequences? For this larger chromosome to have split in two, there would need to have been a centromere there.

        Are you really this obtuse or have you been so brainwashed by creationist lies that you are impervious to the simplest bits of reality? Telomeres and centromeres have different sequences. The telomere sequences of humans, chimps and other great apes are practically identical, so no other explanation whatsoever is possible for this observation except that human #2 results from the fusion of two standard great ape chromosomes.

        There is no other possible explanation for observations than the inescapable fact that end-to-end telomeres in the middle of human #2 means that fusion is a fact, ie an observation of reality.

        You have failed utterly in proposing an alternative scientific hypothesis to explain observed reality. Hence you only possible basis for objecting to objective reality is religious.

        You’re free to d*ny objective reality our of religious dogmatism however much you want, but you are not entitled to your own “facts”.

        The same goes for every other spurious creationist argument against the incontrovertible reality of the fact of evolution.

      • John,

        Also, it’s not “consensus”. It’s simply reality. Observations. No consensus required. There is no other possible explanation for fused telomeres except that two telomeres fused. It’s that simple.

      • I take it you are claiming that you know for fact that no chromosome ever split into two chromosomes, Willy . . and that is just not a rational thing for me to believe you have any way of knowing with certainty.

        I dismiss you as a fake (imagination worshiping) scientific thinker, sir. Do take care, though ; )

      • John,

        Can you really possibly be this dense, or are you willfully ignorant and trying to set up straw men? Maybe your profound ignorance of elementary biology is the problem.

        I already told you that it is possible for chromosomes to split, although rare. But what is impossible, I repeat for the third time, is that a chromosome should split at two telomeres.

        Normal chromosomes don’t have vestigial telomeres in their middles. Only chromosomes which have fused end to end at their telomeres would show those sequences. Hence it is absolutely, physically impossible that the two smaller great ape chromosomes could have originated from the splitting of human chromosome 2. How many more times must I explain the most elementary facts of molecular biology to you?

        In humans and chimps, the telomeric sequence is TTAGGG, repeated many times, but fewer as we age. In human chromosome 2, from the fusion point, the sequence reads going in one direction TTAGGG and in the other GGGATT. Need I say more?

      • JohnKnight,

        No one [snip, while I agree with your reaction, I’m trying to calm this down ~ ctm]

        Do you really not get the reality of chromosome splitting? For your fantasy to work, it would have to be normal for ends of chromosomes to be in their middles. You would be hilarious, if not so pathetically sad.

        In fact, chromosome splitting is a very minor mutation from an evolutionary srand point, since little if any genetic info is changed as a result.

        Almost any other sort of mutation is far more important in evolution.

        Reply: John Knight is playing a disenguenous and extremely annoying game. He’s dancing perilously close to another multiple week time out. ~ ctm

      • “I already told you that it is possible for chromosomes to split, although rare.”

        And what would such a (non-fatal) event require, to be non-fatal, is the question I am suggesting needs consideration. As in, open ended chromosomes would be fatal, don;t you think? So, an overabundance of telomere forming materials in some form, would seem to me to be a requirement in order to get those ends patched up quickly . . as you seemed to recognize;

        “In that case, the two smaller chromosomes of the other great apes would have centromeric sequences in place of telomeres at their ends.”

        Not going to work, but, if there were a surplus of coding for telomere components in that region (as we can plainly see in the human chromosome case, there would be the possibility of surviving the split, with appropriate materials in place . .

        “But what is impossible, I repeat for the third time, is that a chromosome should split at two telomeres.”

        So what? What we are seeing now is a million years (and many evolutionary changes) later, and all I’m suggesting is that in the case of a successful split, it is logical to assume there would be an overabundance in the region of the split . . Not that what we would see after a million years would be the same exact sequences of anything . .

        Please answer why you feel it is impossible that what we can see in this case, is the (much later) aftermath of a (rare) non-fatal chromosome split?

      • PS ~ How do you figure we (and the rest of the menagerie ; ) ended up with so many chromosomes, if non-fatal splits didn’t occur with some degree of frequency?

      • Charles, you told me (us) the “rule” was that details of evolution is what we could discuss . . I have been discussing exactly (and only) that, here . . I’d appreciate some indication of what has provoked you to treat me to this . . visit ; )

        Reply: Bye ~ ctm

      • JohnKnight September 27, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        No matter how often reality is explained to you, you keep raising the straw man argument about chromosome splitting. Of course they can and do split. When that happens, they develop new telomeres on the now open ends. It’s a short sequence, which then repeats many, many times.

        Different organisms have different chromosome numbers because of splitting, fusing and translocations. It’s often possible to recreate the order in which reduction or multiplication of chromosomes occurred. No mystery involved at all.

        Indeed, it was you who suggested that the two smaller chromosomes of our closest ape kin could have evolved from the human condition by splitting. But for the unanswerable reasons I gave, it’s clear that that is not what happened. But that doesn’t mean that splitting hasn’t played a role in evolution.

        Splitting need no be fatal, because the genetic info is still there, largely intact, except maybe for some base pairs around the break, which is typically at a centromere, so no harm, no foul. The centromeric sequence is readily restored.

        Sometimes the whole genome duplicates. That’s a common evolutionary process for making new species in a single generation.

        Please understand that there are no valid arguments against the fact of evolution and no evidence whatsoever in favor of creationism, the only basis for which belief is religious, not scientific. You’re free to insert God into the history of life on this planet at any point you wish, but doing so is not necessary, since there is no need for supernatural explanations for observations of those developments.

      • “Please understand that there are no valid arguments against the fact of evolution and no evidence whatsoever in favor of creationism”

        You assert as fact that which is a principle, not a fact; while denying others to assert as their facts that which you claim has no evidence. Let us explore this logically.

        Assertion: God created man.
        Observation: Man exists.
        Conclusion: Therefore God exists.

        Assertion: Evolution created man.
        Observation: Man exists.
        Conclusion: Therefore Evolution exists.

        Which of these is true? Well, both of them; it is a simple logical exercise with hardly any real meaning. “Evolution” has many descriptions, nuances, advocates. “God” has many descriptions, nuances, advocates. Maybe they are the same thing; maybe significant overlap, maybe not; does it matter?

        What ultimately is the evidence for God? Man. What ultimately is the evidence for evolution? Man, without whom we would not be having this conversation.

      • Michael 2 September 28, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Science is based upon evidence. All the evidence in the world shows that Man evolved, and no evidence exists against that conclusion.

        There is no evidence that God (Whomever or Whatever He/She/It might be) created Man. That’s a belief unsupported by any evidence. And that’s the way that the biblical God wants it. If there were evidence of creation, then what’s the point of faith in a Creator God? No faith would be required.

      • Willy Pete asserts, with no evidence of his own: “There is no evidence that God created Man”

        Sure there is, and I provided the logical proof. Man *is* the evidence! Has Man eternally existed? Probably not. So, once upon a time there was not Man; but now there is. Once upon a time there wasn’t anything, or so it is said, and now there is.

        “That’s a belief unsupported by any evidence.”

        As is your belief. In my opinion it takes more faith to believe in the exceptionalism of Man; that nowhere in the entire Universe is anyone smarter or more powerful than you.

        “If there were evidence of creation, then what’s the point of faith in a Creator God?”

        That’s a bit of a non-sequitur. The evidence of creation is the existence of things. From nothing came something. How exactly that happened is the substance of religion; with science being a specialized branch of religion slowly losing some of its objectivity.

        I have not asserted a requirement for believing in a thing with no evidence; that seems unwise.

        Evidence is abundant. Interpreting evidence is sometimes uncertain. Suppose you find mud. Was mud placed there? Perhaps dirt was placed there and subsequently became wet and turned to mud. The evidence is inconclusive. Muddy footprints leading to the pile suggest that it was already mud when brought inside and further reveals the existence of a Bringer of Mud.

        We know nothing about this Bringer of Mud; but some people realize an opportunity to franchise any of several sets of belief about this Bringer of Mud and in all cases denounce as unfaithful any attempt to investigate this Bringer of Mud whereas a few people are genuinely interested in this Bringer of Mud, as perhaps it or he or she will bring more Mud, or take it away, or something — some people just want to know things that seem hidden.

      • Michael 2 September 29, 2017 at 7:13 am

        You supposed “logical proof” is not a proof, not logical and certainly not evidence.

        Please cite some physical evidence in support of your baseless assertion that God made Man.

        Thanks.

      • Willy Pete argues logic with an INTP: “You supposed “logical proof” is not a proof, not logical and certainly not evidence.”

        The Logic:

        If A then P.

        P exists.

        Therefore A.

        It is a bit simpleminded and in this construction assumes that A is necessary for P, when it may be that B or C can also produce P. Nearly all logic depends on the truth of its assumptions to produce a truth of conclusion.

        Inductive logic works it backwards:

        P (People) exists.

        If A then P.

        Therefore A.

        With induction you have essentially an infinite number of possibilities for the middle clause and most of the work of inductive logic is to discard the unlikely possibilities. So you assert If B then P, then you figure out why it cannot be “B”, if C then P, repeat the process to figure out why “C” cannot lead to P.

        Science is mostly the art of finding the thousands of ways NOT to make a lightbulb, to use as an example the engineering of the incandescent light bulb.

        To the topic at hand:

        People exist (assert “P”).

        What caused P? The possibilities are infinite at this point, including that we were created five minutes ago with false memories of the past few days of this argument, or that we don’t exist at all and your entire visible universe does not exist. Thanks to Descartes you can at least believe in yourself with some assurance; but nothing else. Really!

        The possibilities do not have the same weight. If there is no “god”, and humans are entirely the product of accidents of chemistry, what happens to “right and wrong”? It vanishes, as if such things never existed, for they don’t in your world. There is only chemistry imagining that it exists; and it imagines what it wants to continue to exist and dominate, for all who came before you that did not think this way no longer exist.

        But if there’s even the slightest chance that your consciousness goes beyond the short life of your body, and/or that your presence here (or at least that of some people) has a purpose beyond that which you imagine to yourself as a product of your chemical reactions, well, that’s HUGE. Very weighty. More weighty than global warming.

        I don’t much care how exactly this universe came into existence, or life on this planet. I’m glad it did, but that’s an anthropic principle because if it had not then I would not be here to complain about its absence. More important to me is knowing that I am not alone in the universe; that I have someone that no matter where I go, knows I am there and, incredibly, seems to care. I know this with Descartes certainty.

      • Sorry. “Your” for “you”.

        While awaiting your evidence in favor of the conjecture that God made Man, I’ll provide you some evidence against that unsupported, blind faith belief. As already noted, if God made Man, then, far from being Intelligent, He must be a moron. Humans and other organisms are obviously not intelligently designed, but idiotically.

        Only an Idiotic Designer would, for instance, give humans and other apes muscles with which to move immobile ears. Some of us can wiggle them, but none of us can move our ears functionally, as can so many other mammals (including to some extent monkeys) and as could our ancestors, whether to echolocate better or to signal emotions.

        Numerous other instances of such vestigial features and behaviors exist in humans and other organisms. And only an Idiotic Designer for instance would give wings to a flightless beetle incapable of opening its carapace covering them.

        Besides vestiges, there are structures simply poorly designed, such as the human foot. An Intelligent Designer would start from scratch rather than use Rube Goldberg adaptations to transform a grasping foot into one better designed for walking upright routinely.

        As I said, all the evidence in the world shows that organisms have evolved, and none at all supports the faith-based belief that an Intelligent Designer was involved in the history of life on earth.

      • Willy Pete, showing great faith, writes: “While awaiting your evidence in favor of the conjecture that God made Man”

        Man exists. I have provided this evidence several times now.

        “I’ll provide you some evidence against that unsupported, blind faith belief.”

        It helps if you define what it is you believe does not exist.

        “As already noted, if God made Man, then, far from being Intelligent, He must be a moron.”

        What does that make you?

        “Humans and other organisms are obviously not intelligently designed, but idiotically.”

        And yet here we are discussing this creation of which we are a part. Perhaps the design is not as idiotic as you suppose.

        “Only an Idiotic Designer would, for instance, give humans and other apes muscles with which to move immobile ears.”

        That’s one way to look at it. I look at it as efficiency. You could start from scratch, which you claim below is the smart thing to do, or you can let your planets (of which there be many) produce life suitable to their environments; maybe tweak a thing here and there, maybe not. The result will be what you see; it is what I would expect to see in a creation designed to run more or less unattended, to produce whatever it can produce, so that it can be seen to be Good (or not).

        “Numerous other instances of such vestigial features and behaviors exist in humans and other organisms.”

        I was hoping for a complete list at this point. It is amazing how much effort you go into creating this nonexistent God of yours, apparently not thinking for a moment that I do not subscribe to your God.

        “Besides vestiges, there are structures simply poorly designed, such as the human foot.”

        And then there’s you. I happen to like my design and am wary of suggesting improvements.

        “An Intelligent Designer would start from scratch rather than use Rube Goldberg adaptations to transform a grasping foot into one better designed for walking upright routinely.”

        I see; this is what you would do, being intelligent. It seems to me your approach involves vastly more work. Most computer programmers leverage what has already been created, adapting it to new purposes. Automobile designers probably do not start from scratch, neither architects of houses, buildings, bridges and airplanes.

        “As I said, all the evidence in the world shows that organisms have evolved”

        So it does. Even the bible says the Earth brought forth all living things.

        “none at all supports the faith-based belief that an Intelligent Designer was involved in the history of life on earth.”

        Well, not as you describe this moron of yours. Yet you seem to be willing to declare zero involvement when you have zero evidence of zero involvement. What exactly would be the evidence of God in the history of life on Earth? I have no idea and neither do you. It is like a fish in water, trying to prove the existence of water to another fish. He is immersed in that evidence and thus does not see it; cannot see it.

      • Michael,

        Your pseudosyllogism is not an instance of logic. Just the opposite.

        Since there is no evidence for God having made Man or any other organism, then He is not subject to scientific analysis. His existence is in the supernatural realm. Science only does natural.

        Hence, as I said, God must remain a conjecture, not subject to “proof”. And that’s how it has to be for justification by faith to work. Thus, even if God existed, there would be no evidence to that effect. And there isn’t.

        As noted, the only evidence which exists is that there is not Intelligent Designer, and if there be a Designer, It is intensely stupid.

      • Willy Pete writes: “He is not subject to scientific analysis.”

        Maybe.

        I wonder, but not much, what a scientific analysis of you would produce: Mass, composition of elements.

        “Thus, even if God existed, there would be no evidence to that effect. And there isn’t.”

        There is evidence sufficient for my needs. It is clear to me that if God wanted you to know of his existence then you would know. It would be more scientific of you to limit your judgments to your own experiences or lack of experiences and not presume upon the experiences of others.

        We agree, I think, on one principle, and that is of uncontaminated choice. You must choose your behaviors and be responsible for them, not motivated by either fear of a god or greed at obtaining something you think a god can give you. But even this principle is presumptuous on what one supposes a god might want; if what is wanted is millions or billions of adoring animal companions, then this whole project would seem to be a dismal failure. If it is as I think it is, Earth brings forth life and God sees that (some of) it is good, then life is a school, a testing ground, a proving ground; and it might seem we are utterly on our own and at times in my life it seemed that way to me, but now I know better and I know it with certainty. I cannot give this knowledge to you, for I might not exist.

  5. Oh the irony…its beautiful! Everyone hates spiders, including me. Loathe them. And if I ever see a “smiley faced” spider, I’ll stomp it so hard it will reset the evolutionary process.

    • What an apt metaphor for these “honored” folks. Like spiders that cast a net and lure in unsuspecting prey, the political honorees entangle people in governmental regulation and meddling. And they smile as if that were a good thing.

    • aww thats not nice…some spiders are rather sweet.
      i jump on redbacks black house ones and whitetaileds n trapdoors
      i encourage huntsmans to go outside
      but the tiny spectacular jumping spiders and these prettys(unless poisonous? not mentioned if theyre as toxic as the people they were named for ..bowie excluded)
      and this year i spent weeks carefully avoiding a superb large golden spiders web across my pathway
      she was amazing! had an abdomen like the middle of a fluffy daisy full of pollen;-)
      never seen anything like it.
      and another amazing yellow white with black spots small one out the back garden, also totally new to me.

      • Spiders are “sweet”??? Eewww. *shudder*

        Anthropomorphising anything other than anthros is silly. Spiders can be useful, and they certainly fill specific roles in the biosphere. But they are also creepy, little, revulsion-inducing, too-many-legged, nightmare-inducing creatures who cause an instinctive desire in 99% of humans to flee or stomp them. And the 1% of humans who study them, find them interesting, cute, sweet, or fascinating STILL dance like they have been lit on fire if they accidentally walk through a web, or suspect one has descended or crawled upon them !!

        *your percentages may vary but the resulting behaviors dont*
        :)

  6. To quote one George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life.
    George to (All the people on the name list): “You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn’t, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!”

    • All spiders are “venomous”. Just that for many, their bites are not fatal to humans.

      Just to be pedantic: “poisonous” infers introducing toxins through ingestion. Venom is injected. Tree frogs are poisonous, snakes are venomous.

      • it’s not pedantic, it’s educated. one can use that knowledge to infer something about the speaker.
        so i guess you’ve maybe kept hots or known somebody who did?

      • Thank you for mentioning the difference between venomous and poisonous. My husband and I used to do reptile education and people rarely understood there is a difference between the two terms.

      • if I remember correctly, one of the most potent spider venoms is that of the “daddy long legs” or “harvest-man”.
        The reason it’s not listed as a human threat is that it’s fangs aren’t long enough to pierce the skin.

      • Gunga,

        Been dealing with that since I was a kid. It’s neither a true spider (single body) nor venomous to humans.

      • There’s others, such as blood is blue until oxygenation; the floaters in eyes bacteria, so forth.

        Before it became wildly known as false, was the drinking 8 glasses of water. I went looking for the source and, oops!

      • Class: Arachnida
        Order: Araneae
        Family: Pholcidae (daddy longlegs)

        any arachnid is a true spider.
        these internet experts… but i suppose they only mislead the other clueless.

      • Vicus, DaveW, etc.,
        Thanks. I don’t remember where or when I heard that so long ago. I just accepted it. Never important enough to check out.
        After you’re comments I did check it out.
        Found this http://www.thoughtco.com/are-daddy-longlegs-venomous-1968494 among others.
        Unlike some, I don’t mind being corrected when I’m wrong.
        (I used to think that the Moon on the horizon looked larger than latter in the night had something to do with the curved atmosphere acted like a lenses or something. It acts like prism, after all. Learned I was wrong and corrected my kids. Good explanation here. http://science.howstuffworks.com/question491.htm )

      • gnomish September 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        No, not all arachnids are true spiders. Scorpions, for example, are archnids.

        I’m not an “Internet expert”. I’m a biologist. But with very little investment of time, you could have learned on the Internet that not all arachnids are spiders.

        Arachnida is a considered a Class under the Linnaean system. Araneae (spiders) is an Order in that Class.

        Similarly, Mammalia is a Class, while Primates is the Order to which humans belong.

      • gnomish September 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        My longer reply to you is lost in cyberspace, perhaps never to reenter this dimension.

        Short version is that not all arachnids are spiders. Far from it. Scorpions, for instance, are arachnids, but not spiders.

      • And of course the ever popular, so-called “camel spiders”, which like scorpions, are non-spider arachnids.

        When my unit was replacing the prior occupants (HIARNG) of the hangar at Bagram, Afghanistan, I slept in a room being repainted with lead-based paint. One of the contractors told me, “I’d have taken my chances outside with the camel spiders.” He was right, but I don’t twitch all that much 12 years later.

      • Gunga, no worries. Impossible to know everything.

        Gnomish,
        Willy answered for me. If the head-thorax & abdomen are fused, ain’t a true spider ;)

        Pillbugs are also not insects. Something I learned later in life.

    • A bit of confusion here. Most spiders produce venom (not all – Uloboridae for example have lost the ability to produce a venom [DuckDuckGo it if you don’t believe me], they wrap their victims in silk and barf enzymes on them – they belong in Hollywood), but most spiders are not venomous as far as we are concerned because the chemicals in their ‘venom’ have little or no effect on us. Pity the poor bugs they eat, though. Daddy-long-legs is a common name that refers to a variety arthropods with long legs (and to Fred Astaire in a movie if I remember correctly). Some craneflies (Diptera: Tipulidae) are called daddy-long-legs and so are harvestmen with very long legs (Opiliones – strange relatives of spiders and other arachnids). Usually, though, when people refer to daddy-long-leg spiders they mean real spiders in the family Pholcidae. Pholcids like to live with us and, other than filling corners with cobwebs and dribbling poop around, are innocuous. Actually, they are good because they like to eat other spiders and spin their webs in the same spots that black widows do, but their very long legs help them to catch and eat the black widows (or redbacks here in Oz). The urban myth that daddy-long-leg spiders are deadly venomous to people is just a myth. This is true science because the MythBusters proved it (Adam did manage to get bit, but there was no effect).

  7. Canada’s health care system is essentially universal and “affordable” but is somewhat rationed, and operates at costs that are unsustainable (oh, a proper use of the word root!) over another decade or so. More administrators than patients. Look to France or Germany or Netherlands for models that seem to actually work. Competition is a necessary factor. USA and Canada have systems that function like monopolies. Only difference to the consumer is that in Canada, the costs of care and pharma associated with a major illness won’t bankrupt the family of the victim, unlike the vulnerable portion of USA citizens, maybe 5% not covered by some form of paid or subsidized coverage.
    Bernie’s bite causes pain and local necrosis, with all taxpayers becoming tangled in the web.

    • They don’t bankrupt the victim, however the entire health care system is quickly bankrupting the country.

      The lack of competition was introduced via government action. The proper solution is to back out the government mandates, not add more layers of them to an already broken system.

  8. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

    If this is what people actually believe, then we are doomed to a future of colossal failures. It’s a shame that political ideology can make people so blind to history that they enthusiastically follow a demonstrably unsound path that has led to many failures in the past and will inevitably fail again.

      • Sheri,

        to the rest of the western world ignorant of internal US politics, I believe he did represent hope. The first black US President, it was almost impossible for him to fail. But he did.

        Had he a pair of balls he could have done an awful lot of good. But instead, it seems he was hell bent on turning the world into some sort of confused socialist state.

        I have long maintained countries ought to be run by already successful businessmen rather than clueless politicians with law degrees.

        With few exceptions, no one trusts lawyers, but they progress into politics and all of a sudden they’re whiter than white?

        I don’t think so.

      • I think he was really just about being a likeable, attractive man willing to ride his political popularity with an American electorate pleased to be given an opportunity to prove they are not racist.
        As such, I always thought that sets a good example to the rest of the world. That was always his place in history and he knew it.

        But other than that, he is intellectually and politically best described as pretty vacant. His wholesale espousal of the global warming meme proves there was nothing special in the intellectual locker, but that he also desperately wanted to show something more. I can imagine it is how many super-models want to view themselves as having something other than just their very public external appearance.

  9. Here they were, so close to Venezuala and didn’t think to name one of the spiders Maduro or Chavez; compatriots of the Big Bern. It would have been a good lesson for the “head in the clouds” students to have seen the effects of what the Big Bern policies will do to the US. Too bad, another missed opportunity to see that, as Reagan stated to well; ” government is not the solution, government is the problem”.

    Once these misty eyed students start paying taxes, see the world for what it really is, thery may pull there heads out of their …….s and regret their missplaced adjulation. Then they will go to the courts and demand a name change for their spiders.

    • I’ve lost track of the number of young socialists who point to cable providers as proof as to why the unchecked free market results in monopolies.
      To a person, they were unaware that the cable providers are monopolies because that is the way the government set up the system.
      When I pointed this out to them, they rejected this as impossible because if it were true, according to them, the government wouldn’t have let the system get this bad.

  10. What makes me happy is knowing that 50 years from now, those kids will look back on what they did and be very embarrassed.

  11. Since this spider subject is a bit off topic I would like to take this opportunity to go even further off topic. I have not been able to post comments here at WUWT throughout the year because my attempt to start my own WordPress website interfered with my password for some reason, and now I’m happy to be back.

    Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about.

    If some of you, like me, are upset about the NFL protests, I think I have a solution.

    If the NFL is going to let the players protest then why shouldn’t those of us who are PRO-LIFE encourage PRO-LIFE players to protest against ABORTION and the Federal Funding of Planned Parenthood? They could take a knee before the Nation Anthem and stand when it begins. Let’s see how long, then, it would take the NFL and the News Media to start talking about the need to ban protests.

    I would love to start a meme about this… but I don’t have very much influence. This is the only outlet I have to be remotely heard.

    Dear Mods, please forgive me… I promise I will never go this far off topic again. Thanks.

    • Mods, I do not want my name to appear, what happened to my Freedom Monger handle? It was there yesterday.

      Reply:It’s your wordpress.com display name settings. It has nothing to do with us. I can’t guarantee any help after this ~ ctm

    • The NFL has already shown that only approved, anti-American protests will be allowed. Wearing helmet stickers honoring slain Dallas police officers and bowing by Christian players are verboten.

      Only anti-police protests are permitted, not pro-police.

    • edited: There may be no way to get around the WordPress thing. I had to use the email from my website, not my WordPress blogs, to get comments to go through without moderation (one of my websites has a forbidden word). I tried linking to the other WordPress blog, but no help. Even using the email I used on WordPress caused problems. If there’s any way to avoid using the email you used for WordPress, you might consider that option.

    • How about we just leave well enough alone? It’s an ineffective protest that doesn’t even address what they are protesting. So ignore them. Better for everyone that way.

      • Ben,

        You either misunderstand the idiom “leave well enough alone” or you like to contradict yourself.

        Definition:”To leave something alone; to avoid attempts to correct, fix, or improve what is already sufficient”

        An “ineffective” protest cannot also be a sufficient one, and history demonstrates that ignoring such things does not automatically result in what is “better for everyone”.

  12. When is a species not a species? As explained to me in an undergraduate biological science class many decades ago, it depends on whether you are a “lumper” or a “splitter”. A lumper is generally tenured and might even have discovered a species and named it after himself. A splitter is generally non-tenured and needs a species discovery in his CV to advance his dead-end academic career. Example related to me by a logging engineer attending a scientific meeting: A lumper declared that the Kodiak bear and the grizzly bear are the same species. A splitter declared that they were separate species. A fist fight ensued. I don’t recall who won. I presume that the bears don’t care and happily interbreed. Or not.

    • that’s it in a nutshell.
      there’s one other consideration:
      if you can name a rare species, you can exploit it for funding and become a conservation ecotycoon and never work another day in your life.

    • In the real world, there is no doubt that Kodiak bears are simply a large race (subspecies) of grizzlies, which are the North American (and maybe Kamchatkan) version of the Holarctic brown bear, from which polar bears are evolving.

  13. I hope the ICUN rejects these new “species”. In taxonomy, there are lumpers and splitters. This is splitters gone wild.

    • It’s very unlikely that these “species” are valid. Spiders, especially small ones like these, can travel long distances on the wind, carried by their silk strands, as well as rafting on vegetation and debris, so these island variants are unlikely to be reproductively isolated. Plus, most of the time, sea level is lower than now.

      • Willy, I had forgotten about “ballooning”. Yes, that is a viable means of transport. Additionally these spiders can hitch a ride on interisland commerce.
        This entire argument could be dismissed with an experiment regarding the ability to interbreed. One assumes the ecological niche these spiders inhabit is similar between islands. Simply enclose the various “species” within the same habitat and watch what happens.

      • Thank you Gabro. You’re right. However, my point was something slightly different. About being saddened by what the young students seem to be willing to give up. Over a crush to some make-believe artist in his forties. And in retrospect I should quoted that bit from Charles’ story:

        “In naming these spiders, the students and I 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.”

        By choosing environmental activists, instead of human rights activists, the latter are exactly what the students would be willing to give up first. Here’s why: UN declaration of human rights doesn’t mention environment even once. Reasons explained in the preamble. The generations before us wanted to warned us of lebensraum, living space. That’s the inevitable consequence of anti-human preoccupation over fraction of a degree of average outside air temperature. Battle over space, starting with policies starving the poor in dark during the winter.

  14. Chloe Van Patten … goes back to what she calls a high school “obsession” with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “I’m over my crush …”

    But she still hasn’t grown up.

    When these kids are all done with their schooling, what (constructive activities) will they do with their knowledge and degree?

  15. every time I read of a new species being discovered it is a spider, snake or a giant rat…

    Please can biologists stop looking for any more species in those categories… find some butterflies or something!

  16. The Vermont students saw their lab work in a broad cultural light. “I’m a second-generation American and I’m black,” says Lily Sargeant. “It is through a diversity of perspectives that we achieve innovation in science and I appreciate how much the Obamas value diversity.”

    Oh, shut up. Please.

  17. It is so appropriate that the names of David Attenborough, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.are applied to creepy looking spiders. They need to find another very creepy looking one to name as the Michael Mann Spider. Then the set is complete.

  18. Hmm … they want to honor those they admire by naming critters that most will step on after their heroes?
    No wonder Hillary lost. 8-)

  19. Really? A college level prof came up with this bit of grade school lesson plan? And college level students thought this worthy of college level tuition?

    Lordy

  20. “In naming these spiders, the students and I 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.”

    Well they got something right with the bit about David Bowie. But perhaps not in the way they might imagine: “Five years” was, of course, on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

    The lyrics seem eerily prophetic, not about real events, but about media hysteria forever telling us we only have five years to save the planet.

    Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
    News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
    News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
    Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying…

    RIP, David.

    • Someone needs to tell the good Professor it’s no longer in “vogue” to “stand up for” human rights. Currently the ironic (and historically passive, submissive, subjugated) position is kneeling.

  21. I’m sure this isn’t original to this post. Got to love the idea of naming spiders after these folks. All of them have pretty much trapped their victims in a web of their own making and have attempted to suck the life out of them. Should have named one after Hillary as well!

  22. Should new leach or parasitic species be named after those folks?
    Spiders are decidedly independent and industrious.

  23. Spiders are not discovered. They already know they exist. Just as Christopher Columbus did not discover the new world (people already here knew it was here), so too no one discovers spiders or any other kind of living thing. In fact, it seems the word “discover” no longer has useful meaning.

    On the other hand, I discover things almost daily; things that you might know but that I do not. My own joy of discovery is not diminished because someone else also experienced the joy of discovering the same thing.

    Therefore, in my book Christopher Columbus did indeed discover the Americas, and I am still discovering the Americas and hope never to cease discovering the Americas and every other place on Earth.

  24. Somehow naming critters that spin webs to trap the unwary with a smile their … somethings … after these people does seem appropriate.

  25. If I ever go to the Caribbean I will enjoy all the more squashing as many of these little critters as I can find. “Well hello Bernie, what a cute little smile you have…” Splort!

    • The spiders are innocent. Their namesakes….
      (The name “Hillary” seems to open. Unless another type of vermin already has it. )

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