Monday, June 22, 2009

Taraxella electri

The titular secretion of the Amber gem spider is not true amber, nor any other sort of resin (a substance derived only from plants). This hard, pellucid material is in fact composed of the spider’s own silk. Being the only arachnid discharge released in such a large quantity all at once, its producer is the one species known to “amberlock” – that is, to set itself inside a rapidly congealing mass when menaced.

When amberlocking, a gem spider is thought to enter a state of dormancy rather than death (at least in optimal circumstances). This is not yet conclusive, although an expedition into Upper Sulepawak, planned by Professor Loƶmdorf for 1956, may yield a better understanding of the subject.

Natives have already accepted the frozen slumber of the spider as fact, resulting in several strict taboos that complicate possession of the rare nuggets: They can only be found, not given or traded. They may be set like jewels, but not threaded (like beads) or otherwise punctured. The extreme heat (such as that of a volcano) required to liquefy the amber must not be applied intentionally. But should fate cause the gem to melt, the revived animal will scuttle away bearing on its back the Uborlepoluk (the mischievous imp that acts as a spirit courier) desirous of the amber-owner’s soul — prolonging said owner’s life by at least another day, regardless of present circumstances.

From: H. Viveam Constanelle, Known Wildlife of Sulepawak: A Field Guide, Mandaroeb & Sons, 1955: p. 123.