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Danish boffins have uncovered an unforeseen, extra downside of the melting of the Arctic ice cap, according to reports. Not only will there be sea level rises and massive flooding*; there will also be a plague of enormous, invulnerable, heavily armoured meat-eating cannibal spiders.
Disturbingly, the Scandinavian spider specialist reports that over that period the polar arachnids have increased significantly in size - and correspondingly increased the thickness of their exoskeletal armour plates. In just one warm year, it seems, you can see a 10 per cent increase: and over the decade that Høye has been visiting the Greenland spider colonies there has been a 2 per cent upward trend, which he puts down to global warming.
For example, when spring came 30 days earlier than usual, some spiders grew exoskeletons that were 10 percent thicker than average, resulting in bigger bodies overall. Likewise, in colder years average exoskeleton thickness shrank. At the end of the ten-year study, average exoskeleton thickness averaged 0.104 inch (2.65 millimeters), a 2 percent increase over the 0.102 inch (2.6 millimeters) commonly found in the early years of the study—a big difference to see in just a ten year period, according to the researchers.
Global warming may prove to be a boon to insects according to new research published in the October edition of the journal The American Naturalist. Scientists from the University of Washington found that insect species found in warmer environments have faster population growth rates as temperatures increase. This growth may well have significant impacts on agriculture, public health, conservation and ecosystems
Originally posted by deltaalphanovember
reply to post by midnightbrigade
I was just thinking: "oh great now I have to supersize my bug zapper!" I am not particularly fond of insects ... perfectly happy as long as they leave me alone and go about their insect business, however I am not particularly keen on mosquitoes the size of remote controlled helicopters.
"Scientists have evidence that bacteria dangerous to humans have begun evolving in insects, for reasons that are not clear.
The October edition of Nature Reviews: Microbiology reports that invertebrates such as worms and insects may have begun enabling a rapid evolution for bacteria normally not harmful to humans. Not only are insects capable of delivering disease through bites and stings, they now may be the breeding ground for strains of infectious bacteria never before seen in humans."
Dangerous Bacteria Evolving in Insects. URL
"Animal prion infections, such as scrapie (sheep) and "mad cow disease" (cattle), have shown a pattern of horizontal transmission in farm conditions and several ectoparasites have been shown to harbor prion rods in laboratory experiments. Fly larvae and mites were exposed to brain-infected material and were readily able to transmit scrapie to hamsters. New lines of evidence have confirmed that adult flies are also able to express prion proteins. ...Several cell types found on the human skin, including keratinocytes, fibroblasts and lymphocytes, are susceptible to the abnormal infective isoform of the prion protein, which transforms the skin to produce a potential target for prion infection."
Int J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;42(6):425-9. Could ectoparasites act as vectors for prion diseases? Lupi O. Center for Vaccine Development, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA. PMID: 12786866
"Washington -- Scientists are researching ways that genetically modified (GM) insects could be used to stop the spread of diseases that affect livestock and crops, reduce pesticide use and create pharmaceutical proteins, said speakers at a "Biotech Bugs" conference held September 20-21 in Washington. However, speakers said, more regulations need to be developed, and must be clear and coordinated among government agencies to ensure that the development of improved insects includes adequate risk assessments."
"Biotech Bugs" Could Stop Spread of Diseases, Scientists Say. (2004)
Originally posted by soficrow
S&F. Very interesting.
But eeew. This could pose a bigger problem. What if arachnids harbor bacteria that cause disease in humans - or develop the ability to carry and transmit prions like flies and other ectoparasites?
“More than 300 million years ago, there was 31 to 35 percent oxygen in the air,” Dr. Kaiser said. “That means that the respiratory systems of the insects could be smaller and still deliver enough oxygen to meet their demands, allowing the creatures to grow much larger.”