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Setal entanglement: an undescribed method of stridulation by a neotropical tarantula (Araneae: Theraphosidae)

Authors

  • S. D. Marshall,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, ML #006 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221, USA
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    • 2

      Department of Zoology & Graduate Program in Ethology University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA.

  • E. M. Thoms,

    1. Cincinnati Zoological Society 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45220, USA
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    • 4

      DowElanco, Suite 240, One MetroCenter 4010 Boy Scout Drive, Tampa, FL 33607, USA

  • G. W. Uetz

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, ML #006 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221, USA
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Abstract

The theraphosid spider Theraphosa leblondi (Latreille) produces a sibilant, hissing sound during defensive displays. This sound is produced using a previously undescribed method of stridulation: setal entanglement. The opposing surfaces of the femora of the pedipalps, first, and second pair of legs are clothed in unique setae which have their distal portion bearing hooks and a shaft clothed in filaments. Experimental ablations described here showed these plumose setae to be the site of sound production. Based on examination of the fine structure of these setae, we propose that the hissing sound is produced by the entanglement and pulling apart of the hooks at the ends of the setae on one leg surface and the long, plumose filaments on the median part of the setae on the opposing leg surface. Evidence presented suggests that this is a case of an acoustic aposematic display directed at vertebrate predators.

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