Amazing Invertebrate facts

Not enamoured with invertebrates? These are the reasons you absolutely should be...

Firstly, let's set something straight. Tiny Giants are all around us, from the squishiest sponges under the sea to the mosquitoes flying high on the horizon as the sun goes down. As one of these amazing creatures, you will have no spine or bony skeleton, but have evolved over millions of years to cope marvellously well without. From giant squids trawling the ocean floors to bumblebees pollinating crops needed to feed the world, we really couldn't do without them.

At London Zoo's Tiny Giants, meet many of these amazing minibeasts - and take a look at what the world would look like, without these impressive species. Here's some of the thousands of reasons that these animals are some of the most amazing on earth:

Fabulous minibeast messages you need to hear:

  • A particular Asian moth has evolved to feed on the tears of buffalo, and another to feed on the algae grown on a certain sloth's fur.
  • Fireflies are atually beetles that use light to attract a mate.
  • A colony of army ants may reach over 700,000 individuals.
  • When a flea jumps it accelerates at a rate 20x faster than a rocket being launched into space!
  • Without bees we would have little in the way of fruit, vegetables or sugar. As pollinators they are vital to the life cycle of many plants.

Bee and pollen_microbes

  • The combined weight of all the insects in the world is 12 times greater than the weight of the entire human population.
  • For every human alive, there are 200 million insects.
  • To avoid being eaten, stick insects hold their twig-lie bodies and legs at the correct angle on a branch, they even sway like twigs when a breeze blows.
  • Malaysian giant stick insect eggs are just 4mm wide, but when the baby stick insects hatch they are already 70cm long!

 

And arachnids have some amazing anectdotes to share with you too...

Found a money spider on your clothing lately? You could be in for a windfall...

In With The Spiders infographic - Spiders are lucky

  • There are more than 47,000 species of spider worldwide, 670 of which are found in Britain.
  • The largest house spiders in the UK are the Cardinal Spider or the Fen raft spider. They hunt on the surface of water, only using silk as a retreat or to construct a nursery web.

Fen Raft Spider photo by Dr. Helen Smith
The Fen Raft Spider

  • Male huntsman spiders (also known as giant crab spiders) have been found to make a buzzing sound using vibration, to attract females.
  • False widow spiders, are not dangerous. Although the noble false widow originally came to the UK from Madeira and the Canary Island they have been here for more than a century and are considered native.
  • Orb spider webs are up to a metre across.

Orb Spider

  • Silk from Madagascar orb spiders was used to make a golden cloak that was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012.
     
  • The Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating spider is one of the largest spiders in the world, growing to have a leg span of up to 28cm. Meet ours in London Zoo's Rainforest Life.
     
  • The spiderlings of the Martinique red tree spider are bright blue.

In With The Spiders infographic - social networking

  • The Peacock parachute spider, also known as the Gooty sapphire, is one of the most beautiful spiders in the world due to its blue colouration. It is also one of the rarest in the wild, living in a single patch of forest in West Bengal, India.
     
  • Regal jumping spiders have an elaborate courtship dance to attract a mate.
  • An ant 3mm long has been observed dragging prey 6mm long back to its nest. This is equivalent to a human dragging a small car by their teeth over a distance of 8km.

Meet the minibeasts today at London Zoo's Tiny Giants!

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