Friday, 18 May 2012

Do Tarantulas Shoot Spidey Silk? Scientists Debate

Tarantulas, like all spiders, extrude silk fromso-called spinnerets on their abdomens, and scientists recently found evidence suggesting the arachnids also shoot silk from their feet, Spider-Man style. Butthese powers were fleeting, it seems, with new research showing tarantulas are not so like the famed superhero, after all.

The tips of their eight legs don't shoot out Spidey silk.

"The history of science has plenty of examples which teach us that our present truths are provisional," Fernando Pérez-Miles, an entomologist at the University of the Republic in Uruguay, told LiveScience in an email. "But in my opinion the present evidence shows that tarantulas do not produce silk by their feet."
To hold on to vertical surfaces, spiders rely on molecular forces generated by thousands of microscopic hairs on their feet. Additionally, tiny foot claws allow themto cling to rough surfaces.In 2006, a study led by biologist Stanislav Gorb suggested that the zebra tarantula uses silk fibers — presumably produced by the nozzlelike spigots on their feet — to help them climb up a vertical glass wall.

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