13 August 2008

Spiders and Cows

Science New reported yesterday on their website the discovery of the first species of spider that is primarily vegetarian. It steals food from ants that are in symbiotic relationships with acacia trees in Mexico. The discovery was made by a student researcher looking at the relationship with open eyes. Professional researchers had been so focused on the remarkable ant-plant relationship that they had overlooked the remarkable spider. The research was done with technology no more advanced than videotape. About 3% of the time it does eat ant larvae stolen from adult ants carrying them from place to place. Children's fiction predicted this long ago, in the character of Miss Spider created by David Kirk.

NPR reported this morning that miniature cows produce half the meat for a third of the feed. These cow produce 50% more meat to be produced with the same amount of feed. While red meat of any kind still takes orders of magnitude more resources to secure the same nutritional value of a vegetarian diet, chicken and farmed fish grown in rice fields are probably the only more efficient forms of commercially produced meat available.

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