Lauren Esposito is essentially the Indiana Jones of arachnology. Experience her process for discovering new species first-hand on this trip to Penang in Malaysia.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

When she’s searching high and low for specimens in the field, arachnologist Lauren Esposito’s spidey senses are tingling. “You really have to put yourself in the shoes of an arachnid and imagine, ‘if I was an arachnid, where would I be hiding?'

Lauren is the Schlinger Curator of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences and has just returned from a field expedition to Malaysia, where she and her team found thousands of specimens of scorpions and other arachnids -- some previously undescribed by science.

Lauren has climbed, hiked, crawled, boated, driven, and ridden mules to some of the most remote corners of the world on her mission to understand and catalog the biodiversity of the world before it disappears. “We're losing species at a rate that's higher than the rate we're discovering species,” she says, “and unless we understand what's out there, it's impossible to understand how to protect it and how to conserve it.”

It may not always feel like the most glamorous job after a long, sweaty day trekking through the jungle. “A day in the field studying arachnids is long because arachnids are both diurnal, meaning they’re active during the day, and nocturnal, meaning they’re active at night,” Lauren explains. “I've gotten a couple tropical diseases, I've gotten athlete's foot on my hands, I've had dengue fever...I’m scared of snakes, I'm really scared of mosquitoes...and I'm scared of birds flying out of the bushes at night.”

But for her, all the hard work and risks are worth it. “For me I feel a fundamental duty to the Earth really to document and improve our knowledge of species on the planet.... at the end of the day, it's something that I really love doing, and that's everything.”

This video, "Lauren Esposito is essentially the Indiana Jones of arachnology. Experience her process for discovering new species first-hand on this trip to Penang in Malaysia. ", first appeared on seeker.com.

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