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 the draglines — 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 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.
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.
Source: The Conversation, story by Michael Kasumovic