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Top stories: Superblack spiders, the ‘wood wide web,’ and an antivenom funding infusion


By Alan Fox

The ‘superblack’ patches on these spiders make their other colors glow

Male peacock spiders attract mates through elaborate dances that show off their brilliant colors. The key to those vibrant hues appears to be so-called “superblack” patches on the arachnid’s abdomen. Using an electron microscope and hyperspectral imaging, scientists found that the patches are made up of an array of small, tightly packed bumps called microlenses. These microlenses reflect less than 0.5% of light, thus eliminating any highlights in the black and making the other nearby colors appear far brighter—even glowing.

‘Wood wide web’—the underground network of microbes that connects trees—mapped for first time

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