By dropping spiders from tree tops, researchers are discovering how they maneuver their bodies in the air.
via New Scientist:
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These jungle spiders free fall with style. After being dropped from the tops of trees, the spiders shown in this video are typically able to soar to the nearest tree trunk, providing the first evidence that spiders can glide.
Stephen Yanoviak from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and his colleagues filmed spiders of the genusSelenops as they were released from a height of 24 metres during tests at a research station in the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
Characterised by a flat body, which has earned them the nickname “flatties”, they quickly right themselves and get into a posture similar to that of skydivers. Then they head for a tree trunk more than 90 per cent of the time, travelling up to 5 metres horizontally while steering with their forelegs.