Monday, 25 December 2017

These desert spiders put sandcastle builders to shame

By Elizabeth PennisiDec. 15, 2017 , 5:05 PM

Anyone who has tried to build castles in dry sand knows the challenges desert digging spiders face. Because the grains don’t stick together, it’s hard to dig a burrow and keep its walls from collapsing. Even so, the "flic-flac" spider, Cebrennus rechenbergi—famous because it can cartwheel quickly across the desert—builds a tunnel 25 centimeters deep and uses it daily for shelter from Morocco's hot sun. Likewise, its neighbor, a newly discovered wolf spider called Evippomma rechenbergi makes tunnels, too. Yet they use different tactics, researchers report this week in the Journal of Arachnology. The flic-flac spider picks the right spot to dig, then pushes sand together and scoops it up in a basket formed by fine bristles that overlap. Lacking these bristles, the wolf spider instead glues sand particles together by connecting the grains with fine silk threads. 

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