Scientists make shocking discovery dropping spiders from trees

"Ballooning" spiders have been known to "rain" down on certain areas using their silk to give off the illusion that they're flying downward. However, scientists are shocked by a new study of rain forest spiders that shows how these spiders can expertly move around in the air...sans silk.

These scientists worked with genus Selenops spiders in Panama and Peru. Their experiments included dropping 59 spiders from the air and watching them skillfully glide with accurate direction towards tree trunks.

Before these experiments were conducted, these spiders were not known to have such gliding properties. Author Stephen Yanoviak, who lead the study, told National Geographic:

"We really did not expect to see gliding behavior in spiders."

These spiders don't technically fly because they lack wings. However, Yanoviak explained that the gliding behavior found in these spiders could have evolved due to the safer results of landing on tree trunks than the open floor. The spiders even steer with their forelegs to make sure that their descent is safe and their landing is accurate. Yanoviak told Live Science:

"They immediately right themselves, which means they turn dorsal side up, and they essentially sail over towards the tree trunk — kind of like a Frisbee that's not spinning."

Researcher Robert Dudley with the University of California, Berkeley explained why these animals have likely evolved to be good at aerial gliding. He told Berkeley News:

"My guess is that many animals living in the trees are good at aerial gliding, from snakes and lizards to ants and now spiders. If a predator comes along, it frees the animal to jump if it has a time-tested way of gliding to the nearest tree rather than landing in the understory or in a stream."

The scientists have suggested that they could learn more about robot development by further researching how these spiders glide.

Watch this video to learn more about "ballooning" or "raining" spiders:

The "Spider Rain" Phenomenon Explained

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