University of Arizona Biologist Discovers the "Gandhi" of the Spider World

A biologist at the University of Arizona made an interesting discovery that might make some people think twice before heading for the hills when they find a spider in the house.

Christopher Meehan says he has found a group of spiders that have evolved from bug-eating territorial monsters that can draw a blood-curdling shriek from people everywhere to tolerant vegetarians not out to bite humans.

Mehan's study is published in the October edition of Current Biology and chronicles the discovery of the Bagheera kiplingi, the first known vegetarian spider.

Meehan studied about 50 types of spiders and found that while many will eat certain plant life, the Bagheera kiplingi has evolved to live exclusively on greens.

Meehan says the change in diet has caused the spiders to be much more social and tolerant of each other because they aren't competing for flies.

Fantastic, more ideological ammo for our friends at PETA.

"These spiders may be the 'Gandhis' of the spider world: life-long vegetarians, they tolerate one another's company and may even cooperate peacefully in the true sense," he says. "The abundance of food available to it may be allowing it to let down its defenses.

"This may be a fascinating snapshot into the evolution of a social creature as it transitions from hunter to gatherer."

Gandhi or not, if we see one in the house, it's getting squished.

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James King
Contact: James King