Organismal biology has been steadily losing fashion in both formal education and scientific research.
Simultaneous with this is an observable decrease in the connection between humans, their environment, and the organisms with which they share the planet.
Spiders and arachnids in general, are animals that can simultaneously instill both terror and intrigue.
Their charismatic nature makes it extraordinarily easy to attract even the most bio-phobic individual into arachnid-based discussions and activities.
For example, arachnophobic individuals in particular demonstrate enhanced recall to spider-relevant information (Smith-Janik & Teachman, 2008).
In addition to their charismatic nature, spiders are widespread and abundant, making them familiar and readily accessible to people everywhere.
Even among adults, animals remain a useful tool for attracting attention and making connections among diverse societies, as evidenced by the numerous viral videos focused on cats, dogs, and other animals.
For example, spider silk can be used to explore topics ranging from evolution of form and function, to biomaterial engineering, to the physical properties of protein fibers (Hinman, Jones & Lewis, 2000; Heim, Keerl & Scheibel, 2009).Nonetheless, we propose that organismal biology can facilitate scientific observation, discovery, research, and engagement, especially when the organisms of focus are ubiquitous and charismatic animals such as spiders.Despite being often feared, spiders are mysterious and intriguing, offering a useful foundation for the effective teaching and learning of scientific concepts and processes.Thus, the study of organisms allows scientists and non-scientists alike to travel outside the limits of their own imagination.
Unfortunately, as a species, Homo sapiens is losing its collective knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the organisms with which it shares the planet.We highlighted, for example, the largest and smallest spiders, the largest prey eaten, the fastest runners, the highest fliers, the species with the longest sperm, the most venomous species, and many more.