October 22, 2014 22:22 UTC

Entertainment

New York Museum Show Just Crawling with Spiders

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

A rare 100-million-year-old fossil of a spider in limestoneA rare 100-million-year-old fossil of a spider in limestone
x
A rare 100-million-year-old fossil of a spider in limestone
A rare 100-million-year-old fossil of a spider in limestone

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I’m June Simms.

On our show this week, we play a few songs from new albums by Green Day, Mumford & Sons and Lupe Fiasco.

We also tell about a Native American man working to help keep his culture alive.

But first, we go to a New York City museum to learn about some eight legged creatures.

Spiders Alive!

What has eight legs, comes in forty-three thousand species and has a serious public image problem? If you said a spider, you are right!

The spider family has lived on Earth for about three hundred million years. But it has had trouble making friends with people. A new show at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City hopes to improve those relations. Christopher Cruise has more.

“Spiders Alive!” includes live examples of twenty different spider species. Visitors can get up close and personal with arachnids including the famed tarantula, the small but powerful black widow and the little known fishing spider. And there are many more spiders to learn about at the exhibition.

The American Museum of Natural History claims the largest collection of the animals in the world.

Most people think of spiders as insects. But insects have wings and antennae. Spiders do not. And spiders’ bodies are made up of two parts while insects have three. Finally, spiders, like all arachnids, have eight legs. Insects have six.

Scientist Norman Platnick has been gathering and studying spiders for more than forty years. He was responsible for organizing the exhibit.

Mister Platnick says people need spiders because the creatures help keep the insect population down. He says they can eat more than thirty-five kilograms of bugs each year on less than half a hectare of land.

“If the spiders were not here, we might not be here either because insects would have devoured all those crops.”

Another interesting fact about spiders: they can live after the loss of a leg.

“And, in fact, if it happens young enough when the spider still has several molts before it becomes an adult, it can even regrow that leg. So clearly, if you lose them, having more is an advantage.”

The show explains the strange spider method of capturing and eating its food. Human beings begin to break down food inside our mouths. But most spiders do not chew. So they break down food before it enters the body. A spider will inject its victim with a poison that very quickly makes the prey unable to move. Then a spider spits digestive fluid into the body of the prey. This turns the food into a liquid that the spider can suck up.

It sounds like a horrible death. But spiders can also have what seems like a soft touch. For example, some spiders carry as many as one hundred young around on their back for up to a week. And although most spiders carry some kind of poison, few can hurt humans. In fact, says Norman Platnick, some spider venom may be good for human health.

“So, for example, some spider venoms or some component of the venoms of some species of spiders seem to be able to inhibit the transmission of certain nerve impulses across synapses. So people are looking at those kinds of venoms as potential cures for certain kinds of neurological diseases like epilepsy that involve those kinds of transmissions.”

The new exhibit is a good start at undoing the web of mystery and misunderstanding that surrounds the spider. The show closes December second.

Totem Pole Carver

In the middle to late eighteen-hundreds, special schools were opened on Native American reservations in the United States. The goal was to make young Indians become Christian and accept other parts of European culture.

The use of native languages and culture was not supported in the schools. Over time, many Indian children grew up knowing little about their culture or languages.

But, Tsimshian tribesman David Boxley of Washington state is working to keep his native culture alive.

Mr. Boxley is a dancer, songwriter and wood carver. He is also an ambassador for Tsimshian culture and heritage.

"We call it art now, but it was a way for people to say, This is how I am. This belongs to me, or this is my clan, this is my crest, this is my family history, carved and painted in wood."

Mr. Boxley was raised by his grandparents. He says the influence of Christian missionaries was strong while he was young, so he learned little about his native culture.

After college, he went to work as a teacher. He also began to research Tsimshian wood carving in museums and other cultural collections. In nineteen eighty-six, he left teaching to spend his time on wood carving and bringing attention to Tsimshian art and culture.

“I guess I came along at the right time. Our people really needed a shot in the arm. Our culture wasn't very prominent after all that missionary influence, and years and years of not having anybody be in that kind of position to guide."
David Boxley works at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington on one of the totem poles that he created with his sonDavid Boxley works at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington on one of the totem poles that he created with his son
x
David Boxley works at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington on one of the totem poles that he created with his son
David Boxley works at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington on one of the totem poles that he created with his son

That was almost thirty years ago. Since then Mr. Boxley has created seventy totem poles. Totem poles tell a story. Earlier this year, he finished carving an especially important totem pole, made of red cedar wood.

"The title is Eagle and the Young Chief."

The totem pole tells the story of a young chief who rescued an eagle caught in a fishing net. Years later, when the chief's village was starving, the eagle repaid the chief for his kindness.

"A live salmon fell out of the sky, and he looked up and he saw the eagle flying away. And every day for days and days, the eagle brought salmon to feed the village."

“The Eagle and the Young Chief” was transported to Washington, DC. It now stands at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, as part of its permanent collection.

Mr. Boxley says a totem pole that he carved in honor of his grandfather is closest to his heart. But, he says, the one at the museum is a close second.

"This one is going to be seen by millions over the next hundred years. And it is not just me and my son; it is all of my people that are proud. My tribe."

Green Day; Lupe Fiasco; Mumford & Sons
Some big names in music released albums this month. We decided to take a listen to a few of them in one show. Mario Ritter has more on the new records from Green Day, Mumford and Sons and Lupe Fiasco.

Green Day’s new album “Uno!” is the first of a series of three albums. “Dos!” And “Tre!” are to follow.  The California band spent most of the last few years producing the rock opera “21st Century Breakdown” and a show for Broadway, “American Idiot: The Musical.”

Most critics say “Uno!” is a return to Green Day’s punk roots.  The single “Oh Love” entered Billboard Magazine’s American rock songs chart at number one.

Lupe Fiasco’s real name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco. The thirty-year-old has been performing hip-hop music for over ten years. He became a star in two thousand six with his first album, “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor.”  

Lupe Fiasco performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans last yearLupe Fiasco performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans last year
x
Lupe Fiasco performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans last year
Lupe Fiasco performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans last year
Now comes the release of album number four, “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part One.” The album is political just like its singer.
But like most musical artists, unreturned love is also a theme, as in Fiasco’s song “Battle Scars.”

Finally, Mumford & Sons new album “Babel,” is having huge sales in album stores and digitally. Billboard Magazine reports six-hundred thousand copies of the album are expected to sell by the end of its first week out.

The British band helped put folk music back in style with the first group’s first album “Sigh No More,” released in two thousand nine.  Mumford & Sons continues to favor soft, quiet lyrics and mostly non electric versions of guitar, banjo, accordion and other instruments on “Babel.”  We leave you with the album’s first single “I Will Wait.”
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Robert from: USA
10/13/2012 12:38 PM
Single spider dads caring for eggs suffer no disadvantages despite parenting costs Phys.Org New research now shows that, in one species of spiders, males exclusively responsible for guarding eggs actually enjoy survival benefits rather than suffer.

Read more >> http://www.getmeontop.com/Search_Engine_Optimization.php


by: ryo
10/02/2012 2:53 AM
We should favor spiders, which take many annoying, harmful bugs away!!


by: Valter Filho from: Brazil
10/02/2012 12:59 AM
Really, eight legs is a big problem! The spider man is a just two legeed creature, and has a very good public image!!!


by: Brenda from: El Salvador
10/01/2012 10:11 PM
I am learning English because I'd really like to get a better job and I'd love to know people around the world that can help me to improve my english.
This website it's really interesting and funny.


by: kika from: spain
10/01/2012 9:18 PM
I´m really into Green Day.I love them(their music).I´m looking forward their new album


by: Rocío from: Galicia, Spain
09/30/2012 7:04 PM
So Green Day are in promotion of its new album? Maybe this is why the singer make a spectacle of himself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKaaXBUTRZw What do you think? Is this a marketing strategy?
Cheers!


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
09/28/2012 11:58 PM
Now, I understand the differences between spiders and insects!
Eagle and Youg Chief embraces a good story. Young chief was rewarded for his kindness and the eagle repayed the chief for his kindeness. It seems true what comes around goes around.Thank you for your nice storyes as usual.


by: noor from: Egypt
09/28/2012 8:21 PM
You are fabulous VOA


by: thanh from: vietnam
09/28/2012 3:37 PM
i'm the first..i'm so happy..hahahahaha.i try to read all news today...


by: nissy from: Indonesia
09/28/2012 6:20 AM
I m proud of Mr. Boxley doing. He keeps his native culture alive. In other countries many young generations almost forget about their own native culture. They choose the modern style n culture also individualism. So just keep our own native culture alive.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Learn with The News

  • Armed officers approach Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa, Oct. 22, 2014.

    Video Deadly Attack Shocks Canada's Capital

    Also, Kurdish lawmakers in Iraq vote to send Kurdish forces to the Syrian town of Kobani. China said 43 people tested for possible Ebola infection do not have the virus. Russia and Ukraine are still working to reach an agreement on Ukraine's payments for natural Gas. More

  • Survivors of the Ebola virus pose for a picture outside a clinic near Tubmanburg, October 15, 2014. A total of 4,493 people have died from the world's worst Ebola outbreak on record as of Oct. 12, statistics released by the World Health Organization showe

    Audio Ebola Survivors Speak Out about Their Experience

    The number of Ebola cases continues rising. But there is some hope for those who survive the disease. Recently, a conference for Ebola survivors was held for the first time in eastern Sierra Leone. The goal was to offer advice to survivors and increase understanding of the disease. More

  • FBI Director James Comey speaks about the impact of technology on law enforcement, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at Brookings Institution in Washington.

    Audio Apple, FBI Battle Over Privacy Rules

    Apple recently said it was increasing security settings on its latest operating system for the company’s wireless devices. Apple said its new encryption rules are designed to protect users from search and seizure of their iPhones. But the changes are of concern to federal investigators. More

  • Men convicted of drug related crimes hear the public announcement for their death sentences in Shenzhen, China, on August 15, 1996.  (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

    Audio Activists: China Executed 2,400 People in 2013

    The number of executions in China is lower than in earlier years. However, it is more than three times higher than the number of executions in the rest of the world combined. That information comes from Amnesty International. Death penalty numbers are a state secret in China. More

  • Ebola-CDC brief

    Audio  WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

    Also, student leaders in Hong Kong not satisfied with first talks with government officials. North Korea has releases one of three American prisoners. And South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the deadly shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Iron Ships Clash at Sea

    The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. | The Making of a Nation More

  • Audio San Francisco Radio Stations Ban Lorde's 'Royals'

    The California baseball team, San Francisco Giants, is playing the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 Major League Baseball championship, the World Series. Two radio stations in San Francisco banned the hit song "Royals." In return, another station in Kansas City chose to play the song once every hour. More

  • A neurovascular unit on a chip being developed by Vanderbilt University researchers. (Vanderbilt University Photo/John Wikswo)

    Video Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

    Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. More

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Five million American children and teenagers have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult - if not impossible - to stay with a duty until it is complete. Katherine Ellison knows the problem well. | Health Report More

  • Millions of years of history, which can be found on the ocean floor, are collected and analyzed at the Core Repository in New York.

    Video Scientists Create New Maps of Ocean Floor

    Until recently, scientists had mapped only about 20 percent of the sea floor. But our knowledge of the deep seas is changing because of information from satellites. Scientists have produced a new map that provides a detailed picture of the oceans. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs