It’s Arachtober so I wanted to share, in case you didn’t already know, that the University of Richmond’s mascot is a spider (named WebstUR, I gather). That’s pretty cool. Not as cool as the Evergreen State Geoduck, but nonetheless pretty notable for a nation that tends to hate spiders. But because Arachtober is about arachnid awareness, I’d like to point out that the logo the school uses is almost certainly a mite, not a spider. Here’s a pic from the campus store:
The main reason it looks like a mite is that it lacks a cephalothorax (head plus thorax), something that all spiders have. Here’s a spider:For fun, I loaded the logo into iNaturalist, a website that uses artificial intelligence to recognize and identify organisms. The AI thought the logo was a mite (or tick):
Given the shape of the idiosoma (body) and size of the pedipalps, I’m wondering whether the artist who drew the logo might have based his or her drawing on a tropical fowl mite (Ornithonyssus bursa) or something related. Below is a drawing of one of those, though the legs don’t look quite long enough to match the logo exactly.
If you have any details on how the University happened to base its logo on a mite, I’d love to hear from you. I wonder whether the hired artist simply Googled, “spider”, and then selected a nice drawing that happened to be a spider mite. This is why it’s good to run these things by your biology faculty members.
Here’s a photograph I took several years ago at the National Zoo’s “Think Tank” exhibit on primate cognition. Darwin Day is one week so I thought I’d share.
The text is a little hard to read so here’s transcription:
“This exhibit is about animal thinking. It contains some things you may agree with, some you may disagree with, and others that may even trouble you. Come explore and see what you think.”
The warning sign was crafted by Smithsonian staff to cater to snowflake creationists who complained about the “Changes over millions of years have resulted in today’s humans” panel that covered the age of the earth, human evolution, and how natural selection works.
The “see what you think” part suggests to visitors that the facts presented within are up for debate and thus shouldn’t undermine somebody’s alternative views about human origins or the age of the earth. But, of course, the warning signage undermines the experience for all visitors. I.e., a curious but uninformed visit might assume that the exhibits are just wild guesses about what might have happened. A shameful use of tax dollars, in my opinion.