‘Spiders Alive!’ exhibit back from the dead

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York re-opened the popular ‘Spiders Alive!’ exhibit this week, and will display more than 20 species of arachnids until the exhibit closes November 2.

The exhibit first debuted in 2012, and is making a comeback due to its popularity with the public.

The main goal of the Spiders Alive! exhibit is to combat the misnomers that popular fictions of Hollywood, such as Spider-Man or Eight Legged Freaks, purport with an informative, interactive exhibit delving into the anatomy, diversity, venom, silk, and behavior including little-known defensive mechanisms, such as mimicry and noise-making, employed by arachnids.

The species on display represent an impressively diverse range of arachnids, including ornamental tarantulas, trapdoor spiders, wolf spiders, fishing spiders, desert hairy scorpions, tailless whip scorpions, giant vinegaroon, the poisonous brown recluse and Western black widow spiders, Goliath bird eater, and many more species.

A handler will present a short lecture twice an hour featuring a tarantula and scorpion to museum visitors. The museum rotates the tarantula and scorpion, which are considered to be docile in nature.

Visitors will also get a chance to see 100-million-year-old spider fossils. John Fuentes, an assistant on the exhibit handling the Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula, used a paintbrush to show the different parts of the tarantula and how it releases its spiky fur to ward off its enemies.

The exhibit, slated to last through the summer, is an important outreach effort for people to examine and explore their fears in a safe environment, observing arachnids up close from behind the safety of exhibition glass.

The future of the exhibit is unclear. Whether the AMNH will continue to rotate the exhibition throughout the years or not has not yet been divulged. However, educating the public about their primal fears is important to keep arachnid biodiversity prevalent in the world.

“Spiders might not seem to be particularly important to your daily life, they are actually. If there were no spiders there probably wouldnt be very many people either,” said Dr. Norman Platnick, the curator of the exhibit. “Without spiders to control the insect populations we’d have no food, the insects would have devoured all our food supplies.”