The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.
-- Edwin Way Teale
Today the girls read Chapter 25, "Spiders," from The Storybook of Science, by Jean-Henri Fabre.* Uncle Paul's description of the spider spinning its web is facinating, but seeing such a work in action makes an unforgettable impression. I searched on YouTube for a video that clearly showed a spider's spinnerets in action, and this one is really nice. A few seconds into the video, the camera zooms in for a close-up view.
The Smithosonian National Museum of Natural History has an excellent article on spiders here. Although technically dense, I found especially intriguing the three paragraphs related to spider silk. Did you know that a spider can produce different types of silk to use in different ways, such as one for spinning webs, another for cocooning eggs, and yet another for wrapping captured prey? Silly me; I thought it was all the same!