Updated 07/23/2012 11:09 PM
Spider Exhibit Crawls Through Upper West Side
Spiders large and small will soon invade the American Museum of Natural History as a new exhibit called "Spiders Alive!" opens Saturday. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
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They're not at the top of the food chain but they are at the forefront of our popular culture and imagination. From the superhero Spiderman to the beloved book and film Charlotte's Web to the common use of the term arachnophobia, humans are fascinated with spiders. Hazel Davies, a living exhibit manager at the Museum of Natural History, thinks she knows why.
"I think it's the mystery," she said. "People don't know a lot about spiders' lives in general so there is kind of a mystery factor there, which kind of adds to the fear and fascination of them
There's also the fact that they have eight legs and they can look kind of intimidating. But a new exhibition called "Spiders Alive!" at the American Museum of Natural History is putting a happy face on spiders. In fact, the Hawaiian happy face spider is one of the spiders at the exhibit.
American Museum of Natural History curator Norm Platnick says we should all smile at these creatures.
If there were no spiders, again, we'd have little to eat because insects would have devoured all of our crops," he said. "Spiders are essential parts of the food web in the real world and controlling insect populations."
The new exhibit features photos and, as the name implies, many live spiders. Plus, for the first time at the museum, staff will be showing a live tarantula and its cousin the scorpion and answering questions.
I asked Norm and Hazel whether I could become a super hero if I was bitten by a spider.
"I'm afraid not," Norm said. "In most cases, the spider would not be able to even break your skin.
"Probably not," Hazel said. "The venom in both the tarantula and the scorpion is very mild."
Just in case, only the handlers will touch our eight-legged friends, though kids are encouraged to climb on the model.
For more information on the exhibit, go to amnh.org.