Paul’s Perambulations

July 26, 2012

My venture into comparative sensory capability — with tarantulas

Filed under: Education,humor,Work — admin @ 6:00 pm

At one time I was going to do auditory behavioral research with spiders, and chose tarantulas because they were fairly easy to work with (at least you could observe their reflex behavior readily — crouch to an air blast, and they are not web weavers). I would use classical conditioning to check for frequency discrimination associated with an air blast for similar frequencies pairs.  Anyhow, this creepy crawly box arrived while I was on vacation. A graduate assistant was assigned to put them in terrariums of some sort (shake each one out of his (?) little ice cream box container into a separate cage). Next morning — ELEVEN tarantulas in cages (of a dozen in shipment). Everybody on edge, secretaries having a fit. They moved all rats and spiders from the animal room, called in an exterminator who probably poisoned the environment for generations of future students. Every institution has its ghost — ours is a big black furry spider. They are not aggressive and can be readily handled if you care to do that sort of thing, and a bite is comparable to the sting of a hornet or yellow jacket.

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