A new discovery has taken the bite out of spiders' status as meat-eaters.
A tropical jumping spider that eats mostly plant buds has been identified, a new study says—making it the only known vegetarian out of some 40,000 spider species.
Between 2001 and 2008, Meehan and colleagues studied the spider in its tropical habitat in southeastern Mexico and northwestern Costa Rica.
They observed that the spiders ate nutrient-rich buds that grow on acacia plants.
The acacias are also home to a species of ant that live in the plants' hollow thorns. In a classic example of mutualism, the ants protect the plant in return for shelter and food, Meehan said.
Yet the fast, stealthy Bagheera has figured out how to leap from thorn to thorn to collect its meal—while avoiding the highly aggressive ants.