Spiders appear to be masters of traveling by air, land and water. Image Credit: CC BY-2.0 Ian Kirk
It turns out that spiders are able to traverse expanses of water using their silk as a makeshift sail.
Researchers led by Dr Morito Hayashi of the Natural History Museum in London have revealed that spiders possess the remarkable ability to turn themselves in to little ships and sail across water.
Previous research had shown that some spiders could use their silk to catch the wind and be carried large distances through the air, an activity known as 'ballooning', however it hadn't been clear how such a technique could be used over water without the spider being at risk of drowning.
"We've now found that spiders actively adopt postures that allow them to use the wind direction to control their journey on water," said Dr Hayashi.
"They even drop silk and stop on the water surface when they want. This ability compensates for the risks of landing on water after the uncontrolled spider flights."
The findings were based on observations of 21 different species collected from nature reserves in Nottinghamshire and suggested that the spiders most adept at 'ballooning' were also the best at using their silk to control their movements on the water as well.
"Being able to cope with water effectively 'joins the dots' as far as the spider is concerned," said study co-author Dr Sara Goodacre. "It can move from one land mass to another, and potentially across huge spatial scales through the air."
Source: Independent | Comments (5)