Nerd Nite Madison: Golden orb weavers (audio)
UW-Madison grad student Meghan Fitzgerald on the wonders of Nephila spiders.
We've been working with the organizers of Nerd Nite Madison to capture some of the informal but esoteric talks they host each month (with a break for summer) at the High Noon Saloon. The next Nerd Nite Madison event is coming up on August 26 at 8 p.m., but first, we have for your listening enjoyment Meghan Fitzgerald's April 2015 Nerd Nite talk about the Nephila genus of spiders. Fitzgerald, who is working on her PhD in zoology at UW-Madison and has done field work on Nephila spiders in Costa Rica, explain why these spiders have proven so fascinating throughout history, from their coveted thread to their journeys on the International Space Station to their occasional tendency to eat birds. Also discussed: The "spider goat," and a totally different spider that does a "Y.M.C.A." mating dance (yeah, just hearing "Y.M.C.A." out of nowhere doesn't translate well but the video Fitzgerald is playing actually is pretty cute). We've also posted Fitzgerald's slides from the event below, so that you can see the insane spider harness an enterprising Frenchman invented in the 18th century, among other things.