Tuesday, November 11, 2008 - Commercial Appeal
ITSY-BITSY IT'S NOT
A creature that plunges oversize fangs into its prey before dragging it into a tube-like silk enclosure lies waiting for breakfast in Overton Park. The fangs are huge -- half the length of the creature's legs. How cool is that?
And it's not small for an arachnid -- 2 inches. The colorful, deadly and fascinating purseweb spider reminds us of what an urban treasure Memphis has in Overton Park's Old Forest. There are snakes there, too, and pawpaw trees that drop their seedy fruit in late summer. There are owls, hawks and an occasional coyote sighting. The list goes on and on.
The purseweb spider, whose primary threat is deforestation, made the news this week after researchers at the Mempis Zoo reported finding a bunch of them and began compiling research for submission to The Journal of Arachnology.
Whether 17 acres of Old Forest now under the control of the zoo becomes part of an exhibit or is opened to the public, it's important to preserve it for posterity in its present state.
Workers are now erecting a Teton Trek exhibit that doomed 139 of the forest's trees. Any further encroachment would be a shame. There's no telling what else may be lurking under its majestic canopy, with fangs and without.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008