Spiders and Pseudoscorpions

Mark Dion, Systema Metropolis, Species Gallery

Mark Dion, Systema Metropolis, 2007, Species Gallery (from the Handbook accompanying the exhibition currently on view at the Natural History Museum, London).

The giant spider that dwells in our gas meter made me think of how many arthropods must live in the house without me ever noticing them. The fact that my eight-legged housemate has never been witnessed making her way upstairs to my bedroom – remember that the average person swallows and inhales up to eight spiders during their lifetime while asleep – seems infinitely reassuring to me, so I just let her fiddle about and watch her scare British Gas members of staff.

American artist Mark Dion, for his latest exhibition commemorating the Linnaeus tercentenary, collected insect specimens at four different sites in London with a team of Museum staff, identified them, classified them and put them on display in the gallery.

pseudoscorpion_2817Among the species they found was the reddish two-eyed chelifer (roncus lubricus), a pseudoscorpion which is only 2-3.5 mm long but still highly venomous. Although I’m aware that a creature that size won’t do me any harm, I find the idea that I live with scorpions slightly disturbing. But isn’t it also kind of cool? Pseudoscorpions?

Dion believes that “[t]he objective of the best art and science is not to strip nature of wonder but to enhance it.” Without any doubt, he can pride himself of having saved a Mancunian spider’s life, for had I not seen the exhibition, the aspect of wonder and poetry in a spider that is no pseudospider would have been completely lost on me.

One thought on “Spiders and Pseudoscorpions

  1. Arthropods are beautiful and terrifying. Trilobites are/were beautiful but things like cymothoa exigua give me the creeps. On the other hand, arthropods have been around for hundreds of millions of years before us.

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