Jessica Light Profile picture
Mar 22, 2018 21 tweets 11 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
NEXT UP: 8th seeded Bothrops asper (Terciopelo or Lancehead) vs. 9th seeded Theraphosa blondi (Goliath Tarantula or Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula) #2018MMM
AKA, THE GREAT VENOM BATTLE OF 2018!! We've seen a lot of venom tonight. Who's ready for more?? #2018MMM
First, a brief review of venomous vs poisonous. Both competitors in this match-up are venomous #2018MMM
Bothrops asper are pit vipers & their venom is incredibly potent. The venom spreads quickly from the site of the bite & can cause pain, swelling, excess bleeding, blisters, tissue death, &, if not treated, death of the organism… #2018MMM
Thanks to their cryptic habits (aka, camouflaged;…), bites from these snakes are common across their distribution (Mexico & Central & South America). With their ~1 inch fangs, Bothrops asper pack a lot of venom into each bite #2018MMM
Bothrops asper, the ultimate pitviper (Hardy 1994), is definitely a #DangerNoodle & #NopeRope… #2018MMM
Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantulas use their venom to paralyze prey (by killing skeletal muscle cells). The venom is not harmful to humans & bites feel similar to wasp stings… #2018MMM
The fangs of these tarantulas measure ~1 inch, to better inject venom & digestive juices into its prey. Despite their name, Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantulas rarely feed on birds. More often, they feed on invertebrates & small vertebrates… #2018MMM
"Goliath", however, works. Look at these beauties! The Goliath Tarantula is the heaviest spider in the world (up to 175 g; almost a stoat! #stoatsasmeasurement), & one of the largest in terms of leg span #2018MMM
How big are Goliath Tarantulas, really? Comparisons are made to dinner plates! For reference, here are pictures of a Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird-Eating Tarantula (13-yr old female named Martha) from @bug_gwen #ActualLivingScientist. Goliath Tarantulas are EVEN bigger #2018MMM
Our battle this evening is where the Bothrops asper & Goliath Tarantula co-occur (what scientists term "sympatric"): the humid Orinoco Basin rainforests of Venezuela (same destination as our first battle by @am_anatiala) #2018MMM
Both of our competitors prefer high humidity environments, are active at night, & primarily ambush their prey. Bothrops asper tend to ambush from a coilled position; Goliath Tarantulas ambush from underground burrows #2018MMM
It is a warm evening; our Bothrops asper does not like its current ambush site. Our slender, 2 ft snake moves to a new, & more exposed, foraging site ~30m away… #2018MMM
The Goliath Tarantula is sitting in wait near the entrance of its silken-lined burrow (Bates 1863; Striffler, J of the British Tarantula Society, 2005)… #2018MMM
Our Bothrops asper is not yet fully grown, & prefers ectothermic prey. Younger Bothrops asper also deliver extremely potent venomous bites #2018MMM
The Bothrops asper slithers in the vicinity of the Goliath Tarantula burrow. While on the move, the snake uses its loreal heat-sensing pit to detect prey. It is completely unaware of the Tarantula, slides over the silken tripwire, & alerts the spider of its presence #2018MMM
The Goliath Tarantua attacks! Bothrops asper coils in defense & makes a defensive strike in response #2018MMM
But our Bothrops asper misses! #2018MMM
The Goliath Tarantula delivers a venomous bite near the head of our Bothrops asper! I'll let Rick West 1992 (Beware Blonde Snake-Eaters, Forum of the American Tarantula Society) explain what happens #2018MMM
This video is pretty much a re-enactment of the battle, although the tarantula here is the same as one imaged earlier in the battle (Brazilian Salmon Pink). Remember, the Salmon Pink Tarantula is SMALLER than the Goliath Tarantula #2018MMM

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More from @je_light

Apr 3, 2018
UP FIRST TONIGHT: everyone's favorite river horse, the 1-seeded PYGMY HIPPO Hexaprotodon (formally Choeropsis) liberiensis, vs. the scrappy 4-seeded brush wolf, COYOTE Canis latrans! #2018MMM
Many minds came together to bring you tonight's first battle, so a quick hat-tip to @AnneWHilborn, @PKurnath, @TCastanea, & @tinkeringprim8. Seriously, the #teamwork has been amazing #Monstars #2018MMM
To reach the #FinalRoar, Hippo crushed star-nosed mole, intimidated both maned rat & Tasmanian devil, & STOMPED the cheetah out of competition #hangryhippo #2018MMM
Read 36 tweets
Mar 29, 2018
UP NEXT: #3 seed Berlin Boar (Sus scrofa) vs #7 seed Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) #2018MMM
The top-ranked competitor still has homefield advantage, so this Urban Jungle battle takes place in Berlin, Germany. Berlin Board & Porcupine don't have a lot in common; they last shared a common ancestor ~96 mya ( #2018MMM
Did you know what "Porcupine" is Latin for "Quill Pig"? Follow #ActualLivingScientist @porcupinedoc for some more amazing porcupine facts #2018MMM
Read 18 tweets
Mar 27, 2018
First up in Kat's Away division, Orinoco Crocodile (#1 seed) vs Goliath Tarantula (#9 seed) #2018MMM
This battle was written by the fabulous @c_n_anderson, & it's a doozy. Buckle up folks #2018MMM
The critically endangered Orinoco crocodile defeated the praying mantis in R1 and faces another arthropod tonight.… #2018MMM
Read 17 tweets
Mar 23, 2018
NEXT UP: #3 Crabeater Seal Vs. #6 Jaguarundi!!! #2018MMM
This battle was written by @Drew_Lab. Josh is in the UK right now & he was at Darwin's House today. How cool was that? #2018MMM
The Crabeater Seal skated into R2 after lightly munching on the surprisingly aptly named Edible Dormouse, while the Jaguarundi defeated the Desman #2018MMM
Read 21 tweets
Mar 20, 2018
NEXT UP: 7th seeded Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) vs 10th seeded Delhi Rhesus (aka, Rhesus Monkey or Rhesus Macaque; Macaca mulatta) #2018MMM
Erethizon dorsatum are the 2nd largest rodents in North America (1st place goes to beavers), weighing anywhere between 5-14 kg (23-64 stoats #stoatsasmeasurement) #2018MMM
When we think porcupines, we think quills, right? Quills & spines have evolved multiple, independent times across the mammal tree of life as a defense strategy & are excellent examples of convergent #evolution (see the hedgehog battle) (…) #2018MMM
Read 22 tweets
Mar 15, 2018
NEXT UP: 6th seed Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) vs 11th seed Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) #2018MMM
Wait, a who and a what? You know...jaguarundi...a New World cat that looks sort of like like a big weasel #2018MMM
Jaguarundi great adaptations include: long & slender body w/short legs, variable coat color, diurnal activity, habitat generalist, &, as a member of the Carnivora, #carnassials #2018MMM
Read 17 tweets

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