Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

Silky-footed tarantulas don't come unstuck (New Scientist, Nature)

From New Scientist: ...To figure out how tarantulas make their way safely up vertical surfaces, Adam Summers of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues analysed the footprints of Costa Rican zebra tarantulas (Aphonopelma seemanni) as they climbed a glass wall. This revealed that the spiders left fragments of sticky silk a few micrometres in diameter and up to 2.5 centimetres long.

On looking closely at the spiders' feet the researchers found microscopic spigots that resembled the creatures' abdominal silk-producing spinnerets (Nature, vol 443, p 407 - see below). 'With all the work that's been done on spider feet it's amazing to find something like this. Somehow it has been missed before,' says Summers.

The discovery of these structures raises an interesting evolutionary question, as abdominal spinnerets are widely considered to be the remnants of ancient appendages. [Evolution, Spider, Costa Rica, Spinneret]

Continued at "Silky-footed tarantulas don't come unstuck"
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Based on the journal Nature paper "Biomaterials: Silk-like secretion from tarantula feet": Abstract - plus an Editor's Summary

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