Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/57

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THE STRENGTH OF SPIDERS AND SPIDER-WEBS.

for it to break. In a short time it was seen that the spider was slowly hoisting its victim into the air. By two o'clock in the afternoon the mouse could barely touch the floor with its fore-feet; by dark the point of its nose was an inch above the floor. PSM V37 D057 Mouse hanging in a spider web.jpgFig. 5.—A Mouse hanging in a Spider's Snare. At nine o'clock at night the mouse was still alive, but made no sign except when the spider descended and bit its tail. At this time it was an inch and a half from the floor. Yesterday morning the mouse was dead, and hung three inches from the floor. The news of the novel sight soon became circulated, and hundreds of people visited the stable to witness it. The mouse was a small one, measuring about an inch and a half from the point of its nose to the root of the tail."

The space given the above facts may seem to some to be in undue proportion to their importance. But, apart from the value of positively determining any point in natural history, the discussion has this conclusion: The capture of small vertebrate animals by both sedentary and wandering spiders is possible; the one by the mechanical strength of their snares, the other by their physical strength. There is thus laid the foundation, at least, for the presumption that such animals may be or become natural food for the larger species of araneads. This is certainly a most important fact in the life-history of spiders, and would greatly enlarge the range of their habits.

 


 
Mr. F. J. Moss, of the New Zealand Legislature, and an extensive traveler in Polynesia, suggests that the deterioration of the natives of those regions may be partly due to faulty instruction. It is neither desirable nor expedient to thwart Nature too much. What is most needed, this author thinks, is to allow the islanders in their work and their amusements free scope for the imaginative powers with which they are endowed, and the exercise of which is too often foolishly discouraged.