The surprising discovery was made in South America, where the researchers found that certain spiders can literally perform skydiving when dropped from a bucket located on top of a tree that was 20 to 25 meters high. The insects were able to soar to a tree trunk located nearby.
Some of them could not do it from their first try but they did manage to steer their movements during their flight. This is what enabled them to return to the tree they were dropped from.
‘’We really did not expect to see gliding behavior in spiders. As far as adult arthropods are concerned, only ants, bristletails and spiders use directed aerial descent, ” said lead study author Stephen Yanoviak, who is a tropical arthropod ecologist, working at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
This is an incredible ability for the insect because it also allows it to protect itself from various predators such as birds or fish that could otherwise feed on it.
These spiders were quite large but they were incredibly flat, which made it easier for them to glide. They could adjust their position in the air in about a fraction of a second and they would point their head towards the ground, while gliding.
The scientists said that the best flatties that were able to skydive managed to “swerve to a landing after falling only 13 feet (4 meters) or so.” They also added that “these spiders represent a remarkable evolutionary adventure in the animal conquest of the air.”
All these amazing skills that the spiders displayed were recorded on the video that the scientists posted online. They also tried throwing various other arthropods to check if they were able to glide in a similar manner while in mid-air. Yanovak and his team of researchers spent many years studying insects.
In spite of that, there is no need to fear that spiders will develop wings in the near future.
The results of the study were published in the Royal Society Journal Interface.
Image Source: news.discovery