"Spiders": a mini-report for a high school biology class

Essay by Hank1468High School, 10th gradeA+, February 2003

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Turf and Abiotic Factors:

Spiders are found worldwide, except for in the oceans, and they live in all habitats and at most elevations.

Height and Size:

Spiders range in size from less than 1.0 mm (0.04 in) to more than 10 cm (4 in) in length, with a leg span of up to 20 cm (8 in).

Body Structures:

A spider's body is divided into two parts: the front portion, called the prosoma or cephalothorax, and the rear portion, called the opisthosoma or abdomen. A narrow stalk called the pedicel connects these two parts.

A hard shell called an exoskeleton covers the entire body of a spider. The exoskeleton is made of cuticle, a material composed of a combination of protein and tough fibers called chitin. The cuticle forms thin layers stacked on top of one another, an arrangement that improves the strength and elasticity of the exoskeleton.

The spider's cuticle provides attachment sites for many muscles, and it also prevents desiccation (loss of body water). The cephalothorax cuticle is strong and stiff, while the cuticle of the abdomen is soft and extensible. As a spider grows, it sheds or molts its exoskeleton and grows a new one to cover its larger body.

Life Span:

The life cycle of the spider consists of four stages: egg, larva, young spider, known as a nymph or spiderling, and adult. Like insects, spiders grow only by molting, a process that involves periodically shedding their exoskeleton. In each molting stage, young spiderlings resemble tiny adults, a process known as incomplete metamorphosis.

Most spiders live only 1 or 2 years. An exception are large female tarantulas, which can live up to 20 years. Male tarantulas live only 2 to 3 years. Many male spiders die soon after mating.


All spiders are carnivorous...