Spider Skin: Up close and personal, a scanning electron micrograph reveals spider skin to be richly textured, with…

Spider Skin: Up close and personal, a scanning electron micrograph reveals spider skin to be richly textured, with emerging spider hairs. The yellow pseudo-colored spheres are brochosomes, secreted by leafhoppers and likely remnants of this spider’s last tasty meal.

• Brochosomes even have a Wiki page all to themselves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brochosome). Secreted by the excretory glands of a leafhopper, they are rubbed all over as a protective, waterproof coating. Too bad they don’t work against spiders.

Image: By Maria Barbajo for FEI Company.

#spidersunday #sciencesunday  

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45 Responses to Spider Skin: Up close and personal, a scanning electron micrograph reveals spider skin to be richly textured, with…


  1. Wow! This is amazing. Love the brochosomes too, just goes to show just how small this is.

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Chris Mallory , I learned something new, never having heard of brochosomes. The image on Flickr initially described them as pollen grains. But they are too small, and subsequent comments identified these as brochosomes. I had to make a trip to the ever helpful Wiki to figure out what they do. If you know more, do let me know.

  3. Colin Bester says:


    Wow, thanks for sharing. Very interesting.


  4. What a beautiful picture. Do you have any clue why the skin has such an intricate texture?


  5. Unfortunately I don’t know much else about the brochosomes; here is a page though which summarizes some of the potential functions (of which a few I see are discussed in the wiki as well) http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~rakitov/function.html


  6. I love how SEMs give us a completely different perspectives of tiny organisms (and their parts)we would normally treat as insignificant. Great share.

  7. Rajini Rao says:


    Jonas Neergaard-Nielsen , what we are seeing is the ultrastructure of the integument or outer layer. Over the layer of epidermal cells, there is a cuticle, glandular hairs and much more. Believe it or not, there are entire papers describing the integument in detail, e.g., http://www.americanarachnology.org/JoA_free/JoA_v16_n2/JoA_v16_p237.pdf


    Bit too much detail for us, what do you think? 😉


  8. Uwahh… definitely too much! 🙂  That table on p.239 is rather intimidating…

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    LOL, quiz coming up in half an hour! 🙂


  10. As a fan of tables, I rather like what’s going on on p.239 😛 That paper, by the way, is on harvestmen, which are an arachnid similar to spiders. Of course, I imagine the integument of both of these arachnids is quite similar.

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    What I like about the table is that it illustrates a scientist’s need to be as specific as possible in a description. How splendid to use terms such as reticulate, sinuate and striate, as well as the more obscure rugose-plicate and rivulose!


  12. Does access to a SEM promote something paralleling obsessive noodling on the Internet? Take a random hair; bug part; swab of floor dust; pretty much any substance, and take a look, staying up way past your bedtime?


  13. David Archer I don’t have SEM access but I sometimes still do just what you mentioned with my two cheapo normal microscopes. So I imagine the answer is yes. Opens up unseen worlds.

  14. Rajini Rao says:


    No need for SEM, just take a look on Flickr. The microscope images there number in thousands and keep me endlessly occupied distracted.


  15. Brochosomes are new to me too! Really great info here and amazing detail. Love this!

  16. Norman M. says:


    Intriguing structure for possible future clothing development.

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    Actually, it did remind me of leather or suede.

  18. Rajini Rao says:


    They must taste a bit crunchy too, Feisal Kamil 🙂


    Mary Owens , don’t blame me. I didn’t tag you. In any case, microscopic spiders are fine, aren’t they? They are not hairy, creepy and multilegged .

  19. Mary W. says:


    This isn’t scary Rajini Rao and thank you Feisal Kamil for the tag! Actually this is a really cool post Rajini Rao :-).

  20. Rajini Rao says:


    Whew! Thanks, Mary Owens .


    Stiofán Ó Broin , the surface has many functions. It has  openings for scent glands and oil glands, hairs which carry sensory organs, and the cuticle has to be formulated to resist dessication. There may structures that contribute to color and camouflage. Probably a lot more than we currently know.

  21. Mary W. says:


    I did Feisal Kamil. Dan posted the party pictures & proof of my manicure!

  22. Norman M. says:


    Cosider how spiders live and its prey, I am curious about the skin(exo-skelaton) structure of praying mantas.

  23. Jacob Beach says:


    So sharing with middle school science class tomorrow.


  24. What are those orange soccer balls?


  25. Should have read the previous comments first (rtfc?). Neat stuff!


  26. Wait, spiders have skin? I always thought the exoskeleton was more of a chitin thing. Is this more like a rhino’s skin, then?


  27. My fav post of the week

  28. Rajini Rao says:


    Steve Esterly , thank you 🙂


    Jonas Neergaard-Nielsen , the term skin is used generically. Exoskeleton is more accurate, thanks. The cuticle has several layers and contains chitin (as in insects).


  29. Rajini Rao That last comment was directed at Johan De Meersman I believe – with same initial characters in the name, it’s easy to pick the wrong one.


    I’m actually quite often called Johan by people unfamiliar with the name Jonas 🙂

  30. Rajini Rao says:


    Sorry, Jonas! It was the autofill feature that foiled me 🙂


    Yes, Johan De Meersman , please see my response to your question above.


  31. Ahh, thank you for that clarification, Rajini Rao


  32. That’s nearest one can ever get to a #spider .. Best  macrophotographie ever done.. 😀

  33. Sunil Gupta says:


    rajni rao very good morning and how are you

  34. mahek abbas says:


    whatz d relation btwn spider n leafhopper here with yellow substance?

  35. Rajini Rao says:


    mahek abbas , the spider probably ate the leafhopper and got the yellow stuff on its own body as a result!


  36. That’s beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  37. mahek abbas says:


    thanks Rajini Rao ..bt is it with spider only or any other creature also 2 release substanse after eating its prey…?

  38. zahid aadil says:


    is this choker roof….


    ?

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