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How do jumping spiders make a perfect landing? Watch and learn

Jumping spiders are unique in the spider world as they don’t build webs - they’re active visual predators who rarely use silk. In fact, the main use we thought jumping spiders had for silk was a safety…

Jumping spider silk draglines join bird wings and lizard tails as stabilising features in the animal kingdom. VonShawn

Jumping spiders are unique in the spider world as they don’t build webs - they’re active visual predators who rarely use silk.

In fact, the main use we thought jumping spiders had for silk was a safety line for when they miss their mark.

But a study published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface by Chinese researchers shows a previously unknown feature of draglines of silk — they’re used to stabilise jumping spiders (in particular, Hasarius adansoni) while mid-air to ensure a safe and nimble landing, as shown in the video below:

Remove the draglines of silk and spiders land clumsily, lose their footing and nearly tumble abdomen-over-head; hardly the efficient hunters made out to be.

The flair these little gymnasts demonstrate is due to their control with their dragline, rather than their eight legs. This highlights the importance of these findings as previously we only appreciated the wings of birds and tails of lizards to have these stabilising properties.

Comparison of a jumping spider’s trajectory with a dragline (blue) and without (grey). Yung-Kang Chen

So maybe Stan Lee should consider these new findings in any future Spider-Man films, as Peter Parker wouldn’t have such deft in-air agility without his trusty safety-line.

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2 Comments sorted by

  1. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    Cool stuff. But don't the tails of other animals like kangaroos and cheetahs also have stabilising effects, and are critical for how the animal moves and changes direction?

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    1. Michael Kasumovic

      Lecturer, ARC DECRA Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Sure do! But I used lizards as an example because some of the studies examined relatively longer distance jumps with longer in-air time, rather than general stability over hops and while running (like in kangaroos or cheetahs for example).

      Given their body size, these little guys are jumping quite the distance!

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