The Tarantula Scientist
(Scientists in the Field Series)
Houghton Mifflin, March 2004
From The Publisher
Yellow blood, silk of steel, skeletons on the outside! These amazing attributes creatures don’t belong to comic book characters or alien life forms, but to Earth’s biggest and hairiest spiders: tarantulas. Here you are invited to follow Sam Marshall, spider scientist extraordinaire (he’s never been bitten) as he explores the dense rainforest of French Guiana, knocking on the doors of tarantula burrows, trying to get a closer look at these incredible creatures. You’ll also visit the largest comparative spider laboratory in America—where close to 500 live tarantulas sit in towers of stacked shoeboxes and plastic containers, waiting for their turn to dazzle and astound the scientists who study them.
Spectacular, rare photographs reveal the tarantulas’ eight legs and eyes, up close, and document hours of tireless investigation, showing the way tarantulas hide, eat, and shed their skin. Sam says, “You have to watch them. You just have to wait a number of hours to have some secret revealed. You never know when you’ll see something so cool that it makes the other ninety-nine hours of watching nothing worth it.” Such research answers some questions and creates new ones, which, for Sam, is what makes studying tarantulas so exciting.
Together, Sam Marshall, author Sy Montgomery, and photographer Nic Bishop surprise and delight readers not only with the secrets of these giant spiders, but also with the fascinating discoveries about the nature of science itself. This is science at its best: friends and colleagues working in the field and in the lab, through experimentation and observation, all to understand the way spiders live. And what can learn from these beautiful, mysterious animals? Turn the page to find out.