Scientists have discovered a South American hunting spider named Selenops which is able to glide its way back to its home tree. The team of biologists spotted this nocturnal hunting spider in Panama and Peru.
It seems this is the first of its kind which is able to maneuver its direction while in free fall, along with other insects, such as ants, bristletails and some larvae too. Scientists have known that other arachnids such as scorpions and everything in between would simply fall down to the ground, whereas this tiny Selenops spider can glide.
The team was led by Robert Dudley, from the University of California, Berkley, who believed that many animals that live in trees are capable of aerial glide, including snakes, lizards and spiders as well, it seems. If spotted or attacked by a predator, this lucky spider could simply jump and skydive to the nearest tree.
Dudley’s companion, Prof. Stephen Yanoviak of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said that as far as arthropods were concerned, ants, bristletails and spiders expressly are able to skydive, to glide into thin air. Moreover, he explained that many insects at immature stages, which later develop wings, are able to glide, such as cockroaches and mantises.
To put these critters to the test, the scientific team dropped 59 spiders of the Selenops species from high up in the tree crowns in Peru and Panama and observed that 93 percent of these creepy crawlies glided towards nearby trunks, then they knew exactly where to go, following a clear trajectory to a certain point.
Furthermore, the team of biologists wanted to see how the spiders’ vision was involved in the entire gliding process, how their spines or hairs affected their aerodynamic abilities and how they targeted trees.
The biologists presume that this type of skydiving might have preceded the appearance of wings. The spiders are thin and have long legs which they spread wide open while gliding. Moreover, they are able to resume their initial pose if they turn upside down in midair.
The authors finally pointed out in their study, published at the Royal Society journal Interface that these particular spiders are of magnificent importance to another conquest of the animal kingdom, on the aerial level. They believe that many other non-winged creatures that are capable of skydiving are yet to be discovered.
Photo Credits nationalgeographic.com