Shelob and Aragog – two large spiders undergraduates do remember

I never know which example I will spontaneously summon during a lecture as I have a decent memory for incidents and stories. Sometimes though, undergraduates have to help me out.

Flu-meds can addle my mind and a case in point was my drugged state at the recent LSM1103 Biodiversity lecture on arthropods. I decided to call up a scene of a giant spider from a popular movie I was pretty sure most undergraduates had seen – Harry Potter.

From my fogged mind, I painted a scene of Harry Potter waving a sword heroically at a large spider.

But, really, it was Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings.

Excitement erupted at my confusion and as I struggled with the spider’s name, the undergrads helpfully provided that it was Aragog, and not Aragon.

After the lecture I shared these clips on the class Facebook page to acknowledge the confusion I had been in – there are two spiders in two movies, Shelob the ancient giant spider which Samwise Gangee battles valiantly in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the ageing acromantula Aragog in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I love how the clips are available so easily to clarify. And spider do have a bad rep.

The point of mentioning any of this was for the biodiversity undergrads to realise they had actually seen chelicerate morphology depicted on the big screen. Armed with that knowledge of anatomy, they could now think of the ways to outwit a humoungous spider if it was out to get them.

Next time they watch the movies, they’ll think like biologists.


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