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Scientists Stumped: What Is This Strange Web Like Structure?

PeruNature.com

Grad Student Discovers Unexplained Web Structure

Resembling “The Unicorn in Captivity”

At Tambopata Research Center in Peruvian Rainforest

LIMA, Peru, Sept. 19, 2013– Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions, reports that deep in the Peruvian rainforest near itsTambopata Research Center an as-yet-unnamed insect or fungus has been discovered that weaves an intricate funnel-shaped cocoon surrounded by approximately 30 “posts” that are positioned vertically, connected by woven “mesh,” and evenly spaced to form a “fence” measuring some 2 centimeters around the cocoon.

 

unexplained web strcuture

 

Thus far entomologists are stumped as to what it is.

Troy Alexander, a graduate student visiting the center in early June was the first to discover the structure this past summer, first on the underside of a tarp and then on tree trunks.

“I do not know what organism made it. Never seen such a structure before,” said Jonathan Coddington, who studies spiders and is associate director for science at the National Museum of Natural History.

Suggestions range from the structure being a spider egg sac to an incomplete cocoon. Other suggestions are funnier. “I have seen people say that it’s been built by a spider from Mars, that it's a navigational aid built by mosquitos for navigating the dense jungles, to alien communication arrays built by local arachnids under the influence of alien mind control.” Jeff Cremer, spokesperson for Rainforest Expeditions. “Some people even say that it looks like the insect (or fungal) variation on the theme of the Late Middle Ages tapestry, The Unicorn in Captivity,”

Troy Alexander’s favorite theory, described on Facebook, is that “there are spider eggs in the base of the pole, and the spiderlings climb the pole and sail away on silken parachutes, protected by the fence the whole time.”

This region is no stranger to new species. In early 2012 the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported on 365 previously undocumented species found in Bahuaja Sonene National Park in the Tambopata River region of southeastern Peru. More recently in September, 2012 a new spider species that created “false” decoy spiders as protection was found at the center.

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