National Geographic : 1907 Sep
567 STRANGE SIGHTS IN FAR-AWAY PAPUA outside of the web to about 's inch at the center. The web was most substan tial, and had great resisting power, a fact of which the natives were not slow to avail themselves, for they have pressed into the service of man this spider, which is about the size of a small hazel-nut, with hairy, dark-brown legs spreading to about 2 inches. This diligent creature they have beguiled into weaving their fishing nets. At the place where the webs are thickest they set up long bam boos, bent over into a loop at the end. In a very short time the spider weaves a web on this most convenient frame, and the Papuan has his fishing net ready to his hand. He goes down to the stream and uses it with great dexterity to catch fish of about one pound weight, neither the water nor the fish sufficing to break the mesh. The usual practice is to stand on a rock in a backwater where there is an eddy. There they watch for a fish, and then dexterously dip it up and throw it onto the bank. Several men would set up bamboos, so to have nets ready all together, and would then arrange little fishing parties. It seemed to me that the substance of the web resisted water as readily as a duck's back. AN ARMY OF SOLDIER-CRABS On one of our expeditions along the coast we saw one of the most extraordi nary sights of all our travels-many thou sands of soldier-crabs traversing the sandy beach in detached, regularly ordered bodies, that moved evidently by the signal of some common commander. These "armed battalions" stretched for miles, and no matter what figure they assumed, whether wedge, triangle, or rhombus, the dressing, so to speak, of the outer ranks was perfect, and would have put many a volunteer corps to shame. Not a crab was out of line. The advance was fairly rapid, and was al ways toward the sea for a distance of, say, two hundred yards. When the crabs come out of their holes in the sand they throw themselves into this compact for- A Spider's Web as a Fishing-net: A Strange New Guinea Device A very huge and strong spider's web, com mon to New Guinea, is used by the natives as a fishing-net. They set up in the forest a bamboo, bent as in the picture, and leave it until the spiders have covered it with a web in the manner shown.