Author Archives: Top Cat

About Top Cat

I'm currently in the final year of a Zoology undergraduate degree at the University of Reading. Ever the naturalist it has been my desire to embark on a career in research, conservation and science writing. The academic part of my degree is the first step towards this goal but being able to translate science into public consumption is a valuable skill too. For a hopeful science writer this is essential and blogging is thus a great way to improve science communication skills. It has to be said that far flung exotic locations tend to entice the fresh and eager scientist like myself but it is also true that a bounty of natural history sits in our back gardens waiting to be discovered (yes even student house gardens). I hope the blogs express how even the unassuming creatures of Reading deserve more than a footnote...

Small and successful

Long-jawed orb weavers: Pachygnatha degeeri The name “orb weaver” has a poetic ring to it and the craftsmanship surrounding the design of an orb web is certainly deserving of such a title. The long-jawed orb weavers are known as the … Continue reading

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Wolves in the leaf litter

Wolf Spiders: Trochosa terricola Although they do not hunt in packs like wolves, the spiders of the family Lycosidae are very much nocturnal predators. These wolves, unlike their counterparts, are readily found in the UK and within the genus Trochosa … Continue reading

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Spiders in mythology and medicine

Spiders have been incorporated into native lore and medicine the world over and in many tropical countries the larger species are seen as an important foodstuff. Last summer I was fortunate enough to spend a month in the Yucatan peninsula … Continue reading

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The bite-or-flight response

Spiders are not everyone’s brownie in a mug, more often they are deemed hairy, scary and relegated to a life beneath a glass on your bathroom floor. The media are not particularly supportive of these fascinating animals either. Cases of … Continue reading

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Walk like a spider, sting like a bee

The Woodlouse Spider: Dysdera crocata With a carapace of lustrous crimson and an abdomen of subtle cream I think this is one of the most striking spiders in the UK.

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Spiders and the tree of life

Chelicerata is a highly diverse phylum and you only need to look at the superficial differences between ticks and scorpions to see there is a great range in body morphologies and sizes. The class Arachnida, to which spiders belong, contains … Continue reading

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An introduction to the evolution of spiders

To fully appreciate the lives of spiders, which at first appear so far detached from our own, it is worth noting their fascinating evolutionary history. Did you know for example that, unlike insects, you can find spiders in the sea? … Continue reading

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What’s out there…

Hello to all readers and fellow contributors! I’m Torin and I’m currently in my third year, studying Zoology. I’m also another fortunate individual who has been given the opportunity to write blogs for this project! So what is out there? … Continue reading

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