What happens when you ask an undergrad to draw a spider?*

This summer the arthropodologists in my department are being moved from one building to another, as part of the mysterious game of reshuffling that university administrators so enjoy. As preparation for the move, I’m downsizing the contents of my filing cabinets. In a folder from 2004 I found this collection of drawings from the first time I taught Biology 108, Introduction to Biological Diversity. I had given two lectures on arthropods with a strong emphasis on differences in appendages and tagmata among the major groups. This is what I thought was an easy bonus question on the final exam: draw a spider and label the relevant parts. Here is a selection of drawings, from ‘quite respectable’ to ‘huh?’.



Based on the last image, some university students believe that spiders should be speared on toothpicks and served in martinis.

*apologies to Facebook friends who’ve already seen a version of this.


  1. Heather: this is simply WONDERFUL. it’s a good reminder that it’s not easy to draw something ‘complicated’ like a spider b/c many UGs don’t have a grounding in that area i.e., a grounding that goes back to younger years in, say, elementary school. Ask them to draw a duck, or a panda, or a robin, the results would be so very different.

    Oh, and the Twitterverse is VERY MUCH enjoying this post. 🙂

    1. Thanks Chris! I’m very tempted to ask a similar question of the Biol 108 students this year, but now that the Twitterverse has disseminated this one I may have to change the target from ‘spider’ to a different taxon. Any suggestions?

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