August 11, 2022

The spiders are native to countries like Japan and Korea

Some spider species launch themselves into the air in order to catch and devoir prey – while others jump to simply avoid becoming lunch, according to a new report.

In research published earlier this week in Current Biology, arachnologist Shichang Zhang of Hubei University in Wuhan, China and his colleagues noticed some unusual behaviour in the male species of orb-weaving spiders known under the Latin name Philoponella prominens.

While the female of the species is typically larger with a stronger physical advantage, Zhang’s report showed that their smaller, male counterparts – both native to places like Japan and Korea – may not be as helpless as they first appear.

In fact, a very unique skill comes in particularly handy during the mating process – ultimately saving them from certain death when females decide they’d like a little snack after doing the deed.

Using hydraulic pressure stored in the joints of their long front legs, Zhang and his team observed male orb-weaving spiders launching themselves off of their hungry mates mere split-seconds after they’ve finished doing their business.

Whilst mating, male spiders fold their front legs against their partner before immediately straightening them out and springing themselves off into the distance, launching themselves to safety.

In fact, these guys move so fast that the researcher’s cameras struggled to accurately pick it up, forcing them to utilise high-speed camera equipment from a nearby Beijing advertising agency to watch the moment up close and collect the data they needed.

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Filming the spiders’ movements at 1500 frames per second, Zhang and his team were able to determine that these tiny spiders – which are only three millimetres in length – could launch themselves at around 88 centimetres per second.

“Imagine a man with a height of 1.8 meters catapulting himself 530 meters in one second,” Zhang explained to Scientific American. “That’s what these male spiders do.”

Of the 155 spider-pairings studied, 152 males managed to successfully fling themselves to safety while the other three sadly became a post-coital snack.

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