Saturday, 7 September 2013

What Is This? Mysterious Amazon Web Baffles Scientists

A bizarre-looking web structure has been found in the Peruvian Amazon, and apparently nobody knows what it is, not even scientists.

The strange formation resembles a tiny spire surrounded by a webby picket fence and is about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) wide. Georgia Tech graduate student Troy Alexander first spotted one of these on the underside of a tarp near the Tambopata Research Center in the Peruvian Amazon. At first he thought it might have been an aborted moth cocoon, he wrote on Reddit. But then he found several more, all of which looked quite similar.

He posted the photos to Reddit and asked other scientists to help him out, besides making queries around the Tambopata Research Center, to no avail. His guess is that "there are eggs in the base of the maypole in the middle of the horse corral, though it might be something pupating," he wrote on Reddit.

Chris Buddle, an arachnologist at McGill University, said that neither he nor any of his associates know what it is. "I have no clue," he said. It's "a seriously fascinating mystery."

"I have no idea what animal made that," Norman Platnick, curator emeritus of spiders at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told LiveScience.

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