The researchers hope that by unveiling this natural mystery, they could help revolutionize the technology industry with new and innovative ways of manufacturing nano scale filaments.
The scientists studied a female spider that belongs to the Uloborus plumipes, also known as the feather-legged lace weaver. The researchers watched the spider closely as it span its web.
The new scientific study was published in the journal Biology Letters and reveals a new method of spinning that has never been seen in nature before.
This spider, unlike others which capture the prey by using a sticky glue-like substance on the web, uses a different strategy of catching its prey.
This particular spider uses the hairs on its back legs to charge the filaments with an electric impulse. The spider also establishes a type of static attraction which is similar to the glue other spiders use on their web to catch prey.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Katrin Kronenberger, from the Department of Zoology at the Oxford University, said that the Uloborus spider has unique glands called the cribellar gland, which is the smallest silk gland found in any spider.
The cribellar gland is responsible for yielding the ultra-thin thread used by the spider to capture its prey.
The spider funnels the material, known as silk dope, through long and extremely narrow ducts into tiny spigots.
The researchers observed that the silk forms moments before emerging from the spider’s spigots.
Professor Fritz Vollrath, the co-author of the study, said that the spider produces a swathe of gossamer, which is made out of thousands of filaments. These emerge from the spigots and the spider “combs” it with the special hairs on its back legs.
Professor Vollrath explained that:
“The extreme thinness of each filament, in addition to the charges applied during spinning, provides Van der Waals adhesion. And this makes these puffs immensely sticky.”
Image Source: worldtechtoday