Fascinating World

A small attempt to gather unusual and amazing facts about elements of Nature.

Mirror, Mirror ….. In the Cob-Web?


[Please Note: I would like to state that I have not experienced / seen any of the facts mentioned here. I am curious about the various unusual phenomenon occurring in nature. (As they say: Once a researcher, always a researcher) I have only researched and compiled these facts together. The images presented in this blog are not photographed by me. Thank you.]

Somethings seems to be wrong with the title, right? Shouldn’t it be Mirror, mirror on the wall? No, here it is correct, as we are talking about the Mirror Spider.

It is also known as sequined spider or the twin peaked Thwaitesia. The scientific name of this arachnid is Thwaitesia argentiopunctata. It is mainly found in Australia. The body length of a male is around 3 mm and for females, it is 4 mm.

Mirror comb-footed spider (Thwaitesia sp.) - DSC_7495

These creatures have reflective plates on their abdomen which appear like pieces of mirrors. These shimmery scales are composed of reflective guanine — crystalline deposits which mainly contain guanine, a waste product of the gut cells guanocytes.

With these reflective plates this spider looks like an artwork of stained glass.

Mirror Spider (Thwaitesia sp.) - DSC_9752

It would be natural to assume that these shiny mirrors would act as beacon and attract the predators, thereby landing the spider in danger. However, the scientists studying this species feel that the reflecting places on its abdomen probably reflect and scatter the light, thus confusing the predators.

Big-Jawed Spider (Mesida sp.) - DSC_3284

When faced with adversity, the spider can shrink its shiny mirrors, thus changing colour.

There is another theory that some species of mirror spiders (when threatened) can contract fine muscles and the guanocytes are pulled into a tight mass. Because of this the sequined plates shrink in size and other pigmented cells become more visible (Above photograph). Thus it appears as if the spider has changed its colour. It is no more shiny and not easily visible.

Mirror Spider (Thwaitesia sp.) - DSC_9429

The shimmery plates are smaller with wider gaps in between

Mirror spider (Thwaitesia sp.) - DSC_7349

When the spider is at rest, the mirror plates slowly expand

Mirror Spider (Thwaitesia sp.) - DSC_9767

Here the mirror plates of the resting spider, have expanded completely to fill the abdominal area

Singapore based photographer Nicky Bay has extensively photographed and studied this spider species. He has published a series of photographs explaining how the shiny plates slowly expand when the spider is at rest, how the space in between the plates fills up and then how the plates completely fill the abdominal area.

He (Photographer Nicky Bay) has created an animation showing the expansion and contraction of the mirror plates:

Mirror-comb-footed spider animation - DSC_1708

All the photographs here are by: Nicky Bay.

39 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror ….. In the Cob-Web?

  1. What a beautiful and remarkable creature!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing insects! Never heard of them!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unique informations , as always dear. Amazing !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How utterly amazing. And I don’t like spiders OR snakes! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Never heard about this species and it was really amazing to know…thanks a lot for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That spider is beautiful! I had never heard about it before, thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marvellous piece of work!!!hats off to you..May I know the camera used in this case..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing, I detest spiders but this one looks like a real brooch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many people are averse to spiders, as they look quite creepy. But as you mentioned, some species, like this one, have ornamental appearance. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I still find them creepyπŸ˜„It’s interesting to see how ideas in our mind can change something quite beautiful into a creepy thing😁

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing! Nature can be very creative when she wants to!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing post about the insects!! Very unique and interesting! Pictures look fantastic & Thanks for sharing😊
    I am pleased to inform you that I have nominated you for the Unique blogger award https://divinespice.com/2017/08/09/the-unique-blogger-award/
    Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful post Savita, thanks for sharing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. And we quarrel and fight and wage war and trample others to create empires when God/Nature brings us such wonders.
    I had no clue this existed. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for the post, Savita! I have never heard of this spider.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Incredible and beautiful spider.
    Congratulations for your pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the creature is amazing and beautiful. But as I have mentioned in the blog/post, I have only researched and compiled the information and the pictures. All the photographs in this particular post are by Nicky Bay.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your nice words πŸ™‚


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