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This hellish spider from nightmare-land may be man's other best friend.

Warning: You may hate spiders a little less after reading this story.

This is the Evarcha culicivora, a spider native to East Africa.

Or, in layman's terms, a horrifying beast from the depths of hell.


Photo by Robert Jackson/ICIPE/Flickr.

Here are some tidbits about the Evarcha culicivora that'll keep you up at night:

  • They're jumping spiders. Yes, they pounce onto their prey.
  • They're attracted to the smell of humans. They smell us and they come crawlin' our way.
  • They really enjoy consuming our blood. They have very particular tastes, and our blood takes the cake.

However, this article has been nothing but fear-mongering thus far (sorry!). Because while the Evarcha culicivora may seem like something that belongs in that "Arachnophobia" movie, it's actually completely harmless to us.

In fact, these spiders could help save lives.

The Evarcha culicivora could play a helpful role in the fight against malaria.

A new study by researchers at New Zealand's University of Canterbury and the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology looked at what these spiders like to eat. They found, reiterating what previous studies have also, that these "mosquito terminators" shouldn't be feared at all — they should be viewed as friends.

(I know, friends sounds like quite a stretch. But follow me here.)

Female Anopheles mosquitoes carry and spread malaria. It's a preventable yet deadly disease that's responsible for about 500,000 deaths a year. Even though that figure has dropped significantly since 2000, allowing half a million preventable deaths is still, by any measure, unacceptable.

Tragically, malaria kills mostly children in developing regions of the world.

Photo by Stephanie Aglietti/AFP/Getty Images.

Here's the good news: The Evarcha culicivora has a specialized craving for those female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Feasting on our blood gives these spiders an odor that attracts mates. So, naturally, they're gunning for it. But earlier — when I said these spiders love our blood — I didn't say it had to be inus. Funny story: These spiders' mouths aren't even equipped to bite humans.

They can, however, snack on human blood carried by malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

"This is unique," Fiona Cross, who co-authored the study, told The Guardian. "There's no other animal that targets its prey based on what that prey has eaten."

Photo by Robert Jackson/ICIPE/Flickr.

So yes, the recent study further confirms these terrifying beasts from hell may actually be a godsend. But there are still hurdles to clear before we'll see a substantial impact on malaria infections.

For one: Disliking spiders is a pretty universal feeling, as it turns out. While it's actually a blessing in disguise, people hate the fact that a creepy creature like Evarcha culicivora wants to hang out in their homes. Other mosquito-eating spiders — like, say, Paracyrba wanlessi, which prefers living in bamboo stems and feasting on mosquito larvae in water — have housing preferences and eating habits that make them far less effective in the fight against malaria.

Cross pointed out humans' general disdain for eight-legged predators is fairly ingrained: “People need to know that these organisms are harmless and will not attack them."

That may be a tough fear to overcome for many of us. But I'd say it's a fear worth conquering if it means a life saved from malaria.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.