, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 115-116
Date: 10 Dec 2009

Spider fibers and the apparent fungal colonization of rock-art caves

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Recently, Jurado et al. (2009) presented an apparently heavy colonization by fungi and bacteria on rock tablets placed in a rock-art cave (see Editorial note). Herein, we propose an alternative hypothesis about the origin of filaments similar to those found during the experiments by Jurado et al. (2009).

Numerous filaments found on the walls of different caves corresponded to silk fibers produced by spiders (Fig. 1). Spiders and fungus gnat (insects forming silk fibers) are easily observed in caves including those containing artwork (paleolithic paintings). Different species of spiders place their eggs at the tip of ceiling hanging fibers and spiders generally coat their fibers with adhesive droplets (Ledford et al. 2005). These droplets and adhesive substances present a complex composition (Townley et al. 2006), and they can represent adequate nutrient sources for microorganisms. The origin of the microorganisms present in these droplets was mainly the spider body fluids (Frew 1928). F

Editorial note: this Comment refers to the study of Altamira Cave, Spain.
This is a comment to Jurado V, Fernandez-Cortes A, Cuezva S, Laiz L, Cañaveras JC, Sanchez-Moral S, Saiz-Jimenez C (2009) The fungal colonisation of rock-art caves: experimental evidence. Naturwissenschaften 96:1027-1034. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0561-6