Tower mystery in the Peruvian Amazon is finally unraveled
About six months ago, Georgia Institute of Technology researcher and graduate student Troy Alexander first detected a mysterious structure that was unlike anything scientists had ever seen before. The find was near the Tambopata Research Center in the Peruvian Amazon.
In each of the strange webs was a small sphere surrounded by a circular fence less than an inch in diameter. The curious structure caught the attention of the entire world scientific community, which was intrigued by something so unheard of.
Despite consulting several scientists, biologists, and entomologists, who made various assumptions, Troy (and the rest of the world) remained unanswered. Indeed, until a few days, no one could yet explain what had built the structure.
Many people even questioned that she would be of alien origin. You can check out the details of the initial discovery in this other Mega Curious article. But now, it seems that the mystery of the towers has been unraveled.
Image Source: Reproduction / Live Science
About a month ago, researchers finally had a chance to return to the place where they found the mysterious structures. They searched around the area where the first were found, detecting an average of 50 of the strange formations.
So they spent days studying them to see if they could find any signs of any animal activity or interaction. "We were really hoping to catch something being done, hatching or interacting in some way, " Phil Torres, Troy's research fellow, told Live Science.
One of their first hypotheses is that the bubbles in the middle of the structure were spermatophores or pockets of reproductive and nutritive material to attract female spiders. However, over the course of a week, they did not find any signs of females appearing for this function.
Finally, the researchers removed three of a tree's structures and placed them under glass. After about a week, the mystery was finally solved when two puppies emerged from two of the structures and later a third erupted from the formation. Check out the video below.
Despite the realization that the structures are actually made by spiders, researchers still do not know which species they have. "We don't know which family and group they belong to, " Torres said. To find out, they need permission to collect the spiders and grow them into adulthood.
Moreover, there remains a mystery about what the circular shape of the structure is, although the researchers have some theories. During one of their days of observation, they saw an ant try to enter the tower and then back down. With this, it is believed that the web "fence" protects against invaders, such as ants that live in the trees where the structures are found. Researchers also observed some mites crawling around them.
"It may be that these fences are designed to catch the mites, so the little spiders could already have something to eat right there, " said Torres, who further stated that he is happy that the biggest mystery has been solved anyway. "I can sleep at night knowing it's a spider, " he said.