Charles Darwin was born 202 years ago today.
Although spiders don't figure much in On the Origin of Species, Darwin--an inveterate bug hunter--delighted in their variety and behaviors. He records some of his observations on "Aeronaut Spiders" in The Voyage of the Beagle:
"On several occasions, when the 'Beagle' has been within the mouth of the Plata, the rigging has been coated with the web of the Gossamer Spider. One day (November 1st, 1832) I paid particular attention to this subject. The weather had been fine and clear, and in the morning the air was full of patches of the flocculent web, as on an autumnal day in England. The ship was sixty miles distant from the land, in the direction of a steady though light breeze. Vast numbers of a small spider, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and of a dusky red colour, were attached to the webs...."
You can read on
by going to the December 6, 1833, section of Chapter VIII.
Evolution is in the air today.