Spiders can sail across oceans using their legs as sails, silk as the anchor

Spiders can sail across oceans using their legs as sails, silk as the anchor

An amazing new study has found that spiders are incredibly adept at sailing the oceans in search of new land.

Scientists have made a rather astonishing discovery: far from being lost at sea when ballooning spiders fall into the ocean, they are actually quite good at sailing long distances.

In fact, spiders that take flight via ballooning by catching wind using a simple strand of silk — during which they can travel 20 miles per day — are able to use some similar methods for sailing the open sea, according to an Independent report.

Scientists examined 21 species of spider and found that every one of them had some ability to sail. They used trays of water to see how these spiders adapted to a waterborne environment, and how they use the wind to move. The spiders were able to point their legs up to catch the wind, acting as a sail. And they were able to use silk to slow down or even come to a stop on the surface of the water.

About 325 adult spiders were used for the study, with each of these species found on nature reserves on small isalnds near Britain.

The lead researcher on the project, Morito Hayashi of the Natural History Museum in London, said that Charles Darwin had noted before that spiders were dropping into the sea despite being miles from the shore, wondering how they could possibly survive, according to the report. The findings indicate that they survived quite easily by using their amazing sailing methods, compensating for not finding land via ballooning.

The spiders that were best at ballooning also appeared to be the best sailors, according to the findings, which could answer scientists’ questions on the movements of spiders over long distances.

The findings were published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.



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