Interesting Headlines of January 2010

From the discovery of a giant spider whose habitat is threatened by mining projects or information regarding witchcraft in Peru’s past, the headlines of January 2010 have been quite interesting. In this article, you will learn more about the spider species and what artifacts archeologists in the Middle East have found.

Big Spider Discovered in Disappearing Sand Dunes

Displaying a legspan that measure up to ½ of a foot, headlines in January described a newly discovered spider species that has earned the title of largest arachnid in the Middle East. Called “Cerbalus aravensis,” the spider was uncovered in the dunes of the Sands of Samar , located in the southern Arava region in Israel. A team of biologists from the University of Haifa-Oranim have been credited with the discovery of the nocturnal species, which prefers to increase its activity during the hottest months of the year.

Building underground dens, the spiders seal off contact with the outside world by creating a “lifting door” comprised of sand particles that become glued together. The ‘door’ also serves as a way to camouflage the location of their home. Sadly, the home of this rather large spider is slowly disappearing, as the Sands of Samar are known as the last remaining sand dune in Israeli territory (in the region). Reduced to nearly 1 square mile, the sand dunes once covered nearly 3 square miles of space. Sand quarries and agriculture are the two main threats of the sand dunes.

Future mining projects slated for the Sands of Samar will further threaten the habitat of the spider. However, biologists are saddened by the plans, as they are convinced additional species of creatures (not yet seen before) will disappear before they are ever discovered.

Witch Craft Culture in Peru

Archeologists believe they have come across an important piece of evidence that may lead to vital information concerning witchcraft practices thought to have taken place 800 years ago in Peru. The remains of a witch doctor, who resided in the northern Peruvian region of Lambayeque 800 years ago will shed light on some of the rituals and practices of the past.

The remains are believed to carry aphrodisiac properties as it was laid to rest with 500 nectarine seeds. When alive, the witch doctor treated patients and was looked upon as someone who could speak with god. In the Mochica and Lambayeque cultures, he was given the role of a shaman.

Buried close to the valley of the Tucume Pyramids, a ceramic vessel with nectarine seeds was found to produce the first clue as to where the remains of the witch doctor from the pre-Incan Lambayeque culture could be found. Other artifacts that the archeologists uncovered include a Peruvian scallop shell meant for inhaling tobacco, gourds used for drinking mate, textile pieces, globular jug, and a wooden cane.

Around the same time, the remains of another individual from the same culture were laid to rest with items that pointed to his social status , a middle-ranked official. Copper gilded ceremonial knives, quartz fragments, and seven ceramics surrounded the remains. Overall, both of the bodies highlight some of the Peruvian cultural, artistic, and ritual traditions.