Center for Environmental Studies

Leslie Brunetta on "Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating"

Leslie Brunetta is the co-author of Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating. In the book, Brunetta and her co-author, Catherine Craig, wrote about the different types of spider webs and the story of spider evolution and natural selection. Although Brunetta studied a mostly English and writing focused discipline, Brunetta always had interest in the sciences, especially in biology.

In her log lunch presentation, Brunetta talked about how spiders have adapted their webs in order to attack prey or even evolved without depending on webs to catch their prey. Through their research, Brunetta and Criag debunked much of what they originally knew about spider silk evolution. For example, although it was originally thought that an orb weaver’s web was a more evolved web than a traditional cobweb, scientists have discovered that the cobweb’s design allows for spiders to escape if the animals caught become to predatory. Other spiders, such as the European Water Spider (Argyroneta aquatica), also adapted evolutionarily. The spiders create air bubbles that they live in most of the time. Brunetta discussed how writing this book helped her learn about evolution and the aimless aspect of natural selection.

To learn more about Leslie Brunetta and her book, look at her website here:

http://www.lesliebrunetta.com

Joan Brunetta '15 and Leslie Brunetta

Joan Brunetta ’15 (left) and Leslie Brunetta (right)