Spiders can not only turn themselves into 8-legged flying kites and travel out to sea or miles above ground up to 25 days without feeding, but they can also “sail” and walk on water whenever necessary.
The tiny creatures’ abilities may explain why they are so widespread in all sorts of places across the world and the first explorers of new territories. “Their sailing through the air” techniques are no news to researchers, but only recently their sailing on water strategies came into scientists’ focus.
These strategies were first noticed by a team of British and Japanese researchers at the University of Nottingham. Scientists published a paper on their findings Friday in the scientific journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
The research team used hundreds of spiders in their experiments and nearly two dozen species. They also set in place a tray filled with water and used artificial “wind” to simulate open-air conditions of a body of water that spiders have to cross.
Researchers noticed that the insects “actively adopt postures” that better help them to use wind in their favor and move farther. They are also experienced sailor if the “weather conditions” become turbulent or in salty water.
According to the study, spiders can perform at least five moves that allow them to navigate across water. They can sail by raising a pair of their legs to catch wind and let it propel them in a certain direction.
“Sailing spiders smoothly and stealthily slide on the water surface without leaving any turbulence,”
said Morito Hayashi, co-author of the study.
They can also turn their abdomen into a sail to catch wind in a so called “butt sailing” maneuver. Additionally, they use their silk to attach on floating object, lose speed, or anchor.
Researchers also found that spiders can actually walk on water’s surface by moving their legs in a very fast manner. Darwin also observed this skill in spiders more than two centuries ago and wrote in his journal that the tiny animals could “run with facility on the surface of water.”
Another amazing strategies spiders employ during their aeronautical journeys is feigning death. The tactics is used to stay safe from predators as other animals do, researchers explained. Although, the spider chooses to freeze as soon as it touches water, its water-repellent legs allow it to float.
The amazing air and water sailing abilities of spiders now explain how they can move so fast from one land mass to another, scientists noted.
Image Source: Tech Times
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