Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/685

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SPIDER-MONKEY—SPIDERS

connected with the sphinx in the tragedians, was used by Homer for the sphinx, but this theory has not met with general acceptance. In the ancient tomb discovered in 1877 at Spata near Athens (which represents a kindred but somewhat later art than the tombs at Mycenae) were found female winged sphinxes carved in ivory or bone. Sphinxes on glass plates have been found in graves at Camirus in Rhodes and on gold plates in Crimean graves. Sphinxes were represented on the throne of Apollo at Amyclae and on the metopes at Selinus; in the best period of Greek art a sphinx was sculptured on the helmet of the statue of Athena in the Parthenon at Athens; and sphinxes carrying off children were sculptured on the front feet of the throne of Zeus at Olympia. There is also an Athenian vase from Capua in the form of a sphinx painted white. It is winged, and the face is smooth and delicate in contour. Though Greek sphinxes are in general winged, there have been found in Boeotia terra-cotta figures of wingless sphinxes. Roman sphinxes of a late period have sometimes a man's, sometimes a woman's head with an asp on the forehead. An indefinable man-lion nara sinha) represents the fourth avatar of the Indian Vishnu, and is found also among the Tibetans.

In Greek mythology the most famous sphinx was that of Thebes in Boeotia, first mentioned by Hesiod (Theog. 326), who calls her the daughter of Orthus and Chimaera. According to Apollonius (iii. 5, 8), she was the daughter of Typhon and Echidna, and had the face of a woman, the feet and tail of a lion and the wings of a bird. She dwelt at the south-east corner of Lake Copais on a bald rocky mountain called Phicium (mod. Fagas), which was derived from Φίξ , the Aeolic form of σφίγξ. The Muses taught her a riddle and the Thebans had to guess it. Whenever they failed she carried one of them off and devoured him. The riddle was this: " What is that which is four-footed, three-footed, and two-footed? " At last Oedipus guessed correctly that it was man; for the child crawls on hands and feet, the adult walks upright, and the old man supports his steps with a stick. Then the sphinx threw herself down from the mountain.

The story of the sphinx's riddle first occurs in the Greek tragedians. Milchhofer believes that the story was a mere invention of Greek fancy, an attempt to interpret the mysterious figure which Greek art had borrowed from the East. On the other hand, he holds that the destroying nature of the sphinx was much older, and he refers to instances in both Egyptian and Greek art where a sphinx is seen seizing and standing upon a man. And, whereas the Theban legend is but sparingly illustrated in Greek art, the figure of the sphinx appears more commonly on tombs, sculptured either in the round or in relief. From this Milchhofer seems to infer that the sphinx was a symbol of death.

Among the remains of the Mayan culture in Yucatan are found examples of sphinxes, male and female, which are not unlike those of Egypt and Asia Minor.

Milchhofer, in Mitth. d. deulsch. archdol. Instit. in Athen (1879), p. 46 seq.; J. Ilberg, Die Sphinx in der griechischen Sage und Kunst (1895); Sir R. C. Jebb's edition of Sophocles, Oed. Tyrann., app., note 12.  (J. M. M.) 


SPIDER-MONKEY, the English title of a group of tropical American monkeys known to the natives of Brazil by the name coaita, and to zoologists as Ateles, in allusion to the imperfectly- developed thumb. They take their English name from the slimness of the body, the elongated limbs, and the long tail, the under surface of the prehensile extremity of which is naked. The thumb is either rudimentary or wanting, so that the hands act merely as hooks in climbing. The absence of woolly under-fur, the less compressed nails, and the broader partition between the nostrils distinguishes them from the woolly spider-monkeys (Brachyteles.) The species are numerous, and the most active and thoroughly arboreal of all American monkeys. The prehen- sile tail is employed not only as a means of suspension, but also to convey food to the mouth. These monkeys generally go about in small parties, high up in the trees; and, like the other members of the group, are comparatively silent. Their food consists chiefly of fruits and leaves. (See Primates.)


SPIDERS, the common English name of Arachnida (q.v.) of the order Araneae, resembling the Pedipalpi in many structural points, but differing from them as well as from all other Arachnida in retaining short abdominal appendages known from their silk-manipulating function as spinnerets or spinning mamillae, with which are associated silk glands. It is probably owing to the possession of such glands and the varied purposes for which the silk is used that spiders as a group far surpass the other orders of Arachnida, with the possible exception of the Acari (mites and ticks), in diversity of form and of size, in numbers of genera and species, in extent of geographical distribution, and in adaptation to varied habitats. Except in the extreme north and south, and on the tops of the highest mountains, where there is no insect life as food supply, spiders are found all over the world, even in isolated oceanic islands. They occur up mountain slopes as far as vegetation extends, in tropical valleys and forests, in open grassy plains, in sandy deserts, and even in fresh-water ponds and between tide-marks on the seashore. Some are nocturnal, some diurnal; some catch their prey by speed of foot, some by cunningly lying hid, some by means of silken nets. The phenomena known as “protective resemblance,” or similarity to inanimate objects or vegetation, and the kindred phenomenon of “mimicry,” or beneficial likeness to certain protected species of animals, are common in the group. In these particulars, considered in their entirety, spiders show a marked contrast to other Arachnida, such as the scorpions, pedipalps, book-scorpions and so-called harvest spiders, which by comparison are remarkably uniform, within the limits of the orders, in structure, habits and other respects. Spiders, in short, must be regarded as the most highly organized and the most successful members of the class Arachnida.

Their success in the struggle for existence, as already indicated, must be assigned in a great measure to the possession of silk glands and to their power of manipulating the silk for a variety of purposes. Several facts point to the conclusion that the primary use of this secretion was the formation of egg-cases or cocoons by the female, for this is the only constant use for which the silk is employed, without exception, by all species. The second step in the evolution of spinning instincts was probably the making of a silken chamber for the reception of the cocoon itself and for the protection of the mother while guarding it and her newly-hatched young. If an aperture for ingress and egress, for purposes of feeding, were left in the wall of such a chamber, there would arise in a rudimentary form what is known as the tubular nest or web; and the next important step was possibly the adoption of such a nest as a permanent abode for the spider. Some spiders, like the Drassidae and Salticidae, have not advanced beyond this stage in architectural industry; but next to the cocoon this simple tubular retreat — whether spun in a crevice or burrow or simply attached to the lower side of a stone — is the most constant feature to be observed in the spinning habits of spiders. From this starting-point the evolution of web-making seems to have proceeded along two main divergent lines. Along one line there was a gradual elaboration of the tube until it culminated, so far as structural complexity is concerned, in the so-called trap-door nests or burrows of various families; along the other line the tubular retreat either retains its primitive simplicity in association with a new structure, the snare or net, or is entirely superseded by the latter.

Trap-door nests are made by spiders belonging to two widely different groups, namely the Lycosidae or wolf-spiders, to which the true tarantula (q.v.) belongs, and the Mygalomorphae, containing the species which construct the best-known types of this style of burrow. Although there is no direct genetic affinity between the spiders of these two groups, an interesting parallelism in their habits may be traced. In both there are species which form no nest or burrow, others which construct a simple silk-lined tunnel in the soil, and others which close the aperture of the burrow with a hinged door; while both share the habit of lining the burrow with silk to prevent the infall of loose sand or mould; and the species which make an open burrow close the aperture with a sheet of silk in the winter during