Monday, 6 July 2015

Spiders, Ahoy! 8-Legged Critters Can 'Sail' Over Water

by Elizabeth Palermo, Staff Writer | July 06, 2015 10:17am ET

Spiders can dance on water like tiny ballerinas pirouetting across a slippery stage. But unlike a ballet, this arachnid dance routine isn't just for show, a new study finds.

Researchers discovered that spider dancing (also known as spider sailing) is a part of the "ballooning" process — a popular method of transportation for many species of spiders. When ballooning, spiders typically climb to the top of a plant, stick their spinnakers into the air and shoot out a long strand of silk, which catches a breeze and hoists the silk (and the spider) into the air.

But unlike a person riding in a hot air balloon, a ballooning spider has no control over the route it takes or the spot where it touches down. And sometimes, it lands right on top of a body of water. Previously, researchers assumed a ballooning spider that landed on water was a lost cause, according to study lead author Morito Hayashi, team leader of the zoology department at the Natural History Museum of London. [See photos of spiders "sailing" and "dancing" on water]

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