It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a ….. SPIDER?
Flying spiders? WHAT! Spiders don’t fly! Of course they don’t, but some appear to be gliding which is a feat for such a small insect that doesn’t have wings. Researchers in the rainforests of Panama and Peru have researched and documented the instances of spiders appearing to fly and are astonished.
Spiders are typically nocturnal and lay flat in the bark in the rainforest. The species called Selenops are large at three inches wide, but remarkably thin at less than one sixteenth of an inch thick. With dimensions like that, they are not at all naturally aerodynamic.
The researchers collected nearly 60 spiders and released them from the tops of the trees in the rainforest. Nearly all of them literally glided down to land on tree trunks standing nearby. They noticed upon release, the spiders would automatically turn their body facing their heads towards their intended landing spot. It was also observed that they seem to use their front legs to steer themselves in the right direction while gliding.
One of the important parts of this research is the realization that these spiders are not just free falling from a silky web like most will do to cascade through the air. They are gliding with no cords or parachutes. Almost like a free fall if you will.
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