Spiders Sail the Seven Seas Like Sailboats, Say Surprised Scientists

PatrickJS

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Spiders Sail the Seven Seas Like Sailboats, Say Surprised Scientists



A new study reveals spiders to be adept seafarers. Several species of the arachnid use their legs to catch the wind and their silk as an anchor, giving them sailboat-like control while skimming water.

Even Charles Darwin had to wonder about the spiders floating onto the deck of the HMS Beagle.

Darwin wasn't surprised at the existence of floating spiders, per se. Aerial dispersal among arachnids - spiders using their silk as parasails, or balloons - had been noted for some time. What Darwin wondered was what the spiders that didn't make it to the deck of the Beagle did. After all, his ship was out at sea; the spiders that caught the breeze were depending on luck to land somewhere liveable. No doubt thousands of spiders were left adrift for each one that managed to find land.

Morito Hayashi, a researcher at London's Natural History Museum, puts Darwin's nagging question thus: "Given that spiders are terrestrial, and that they do not have control over where they will travel when ballooning, how could evolution allow such risky behavior to be maintained?"

As Hayashi and fellow scientists discovered, spiders know how to sail. Their research is presented in a study in Evolutionary Biology. [http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/15/118]

Darwin was correct in his assumption: most spiders that take flight end up in the water. Once there, the study says, spiders will lift their legs in order to catch the wind, guiding them in a preferred direction not at all unlike a sailboat. When they wanted to slow down or change direction, they used an anchor - a length of silk that dragged in the water behind them.

Video of scientists being mean to spiders:


So far, the seafaring behavior has only been noted in species that also "take flight," lending credence to the belief that sailing is a backup instinct for when the wind drops a spider far from land.

More from the Escapist on evolution. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/evolution?from_search=1]

Why do spiders fly in the first place, though, if they have so little control over it? As awesome as it would be to have a fleet of blimp-bound spiders chasing down prey, the behavior has little to do with hunting - at least not directly. The eight-legged critters use the wind to cross vast distances quickly, allowing them to claim new feeding grounds, find places to hide their egg sacks, or escape from inhospitable territory.

By "vast distances," we don't necessarily mean relatively vast - a spider and its balloon can hop from island to island, and sometimes from continent to continent, using high-altitude air currents. Spiders are among the first animals to arrive at new volcanic islands, landing soon after winged insects and birds.

[gallery=4382]

Apologies to any readers scared of spiders. There is almost no evidence to suggest that a vast ocean-bound spider armada exists, let alone that they know where you live. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/spiders?from_search=1]

Source: Tech Times [http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/15/118]

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Tsaba

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Oct 6, 2009
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MCerberus said:
Spiders can cross the ocean?

...
AUSTRALIA HAS BROKEN CONTAINMENT!
RED ALERT! EVERYONE ASSUME BATTLE STATIONS! THIS IS NOT A TEST! I SAY AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A TEST!

 

Eddy Ville

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I used to surf big waves and a few times, usually with strong off shore winds, I have seen big spiders way out in the ocean.They just walk right on top of the water.
 

SupahEwok

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As long as its not slugs figuring out how to swim...
 

weirdee

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It's less that the spiders know whether or not there's anything waiting out there for them when they put themselves at the mercy of the currents, and more that the ones that did have significantly wider ranges to spread than other creatures.

Y'know, kind of like humans.
 

SecondPrize

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That's it, i'm putting an oar on my shoulder and walking inland until someone asks me "what's that?" and that's where I'll settle down.
 

Ldude893

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Tsaba said:
MCerberus said:
Spiders can cross the ocean?

...
AUSTRALIA HAS BROKEN CONTAINMENT!
RED ALERT! EVERYONE ASSUME BATTLE STATIONS! THIS IS NOT A TEST! I SAY AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A TEST!

PREPPING ALL NUCLEAR SILOS. WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. REPEAT, WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
 

Spushkin

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The title has sadly missed the opportunity to use "Sailboat-style" instead of the somewhat clumsy "like sailboats". I am disappoint.
 

Infernai

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Ldude893 said:
Tsaba said:
MCerberus said:
Spiders can cross the ocean?

...
AUSTRALIA HAS BROKEN CONTAINMENT!
RED ALERT! EVERYONE ASSUME BATTLE STATIONS! THIS IS NOT A TEST! I SAY AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A TEST!

PREPPING ALL NUCLEAR SILOS. WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. REPEAT, WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
I'm afraid there is too much Corruption, we have no choice.

We have to perform an Exterminatus on this planet.

The emperor protects...

 

Renegade-pizza

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Infernai said:
Ldude893 said:
Tsaba said:
MCerberus said:
Spiders can cross the ocean?

...
AUSTRALIA HAS BROKEN CONTAINMENT!
RED ALERT! EVERYONE ASSUME BATTLE STATIONS! THIS IS NOT A TEST! I SAY AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A TEST!

PREPPING ALL NUCLEAR SILOS. WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. REPEAT, WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
I'm afraid there is too much Corruption, we have no choice.

We have to perform an Exterminatus on this planet.

The emperor protects...

This isn't enough! We must cleanse the entire sector of these vile monsters!
 

gigastar

Insert one-liner here.
Sep 13, 2010
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Supahewok said:
As long as its not slugs figuring out how to swim...
Sea slugs exist.

Though theyre quite different from your garden variety slug.

 

MJpoland

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Am I really the only one that isn't surprised by this? I've read long time ago about spiders being one of the first species that usually colonize new islands (as mentioned in last part of article) so their ability to sail isn't that strange.
 

Thaluikhain

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MJpoland said:
Am I really the only one that isn't surprised by this? I've read long time ago about spiders being one of the first species that usually colonize new islands (as mentioned in last part of article) so their ability to sail isn't that strange.
Especially since Charles Darwin said they could.

008Zulu said:
Davey Jones: Release the Kraken!
The Kraken: Are you kidding me? There's spiders up there!
Davey Jones: Fine then, take the last train To Clarksville.

...

Yeah, could never take him that seriously as a villain.

Cap: this is not fake

Ok, now I wonder.
 

PatrickJS

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Spushkin said:
The title has sadly missed the opportunity to use "Sailboat-style" instead of the somewhat clumsy "like sailboats". I am disappoint.
AAAAARRRGH! Good call. I have failed.
 

Scarim Coral

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Great, as if they need a new form of travels to get to me! I pray that the spiders in Australia evolved with ability. Imagine if the Black Widow get to learn this??!!
 

Shiftygiant

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Renegade-pizza said:
Infernai said:
Ldude893 said:
Tsaba said:
MCerberus said:
Spiders can cross the ocean?

...
AUSTRALIA HAS BROKEN CONTAINMENT!
RED ALERT! EVERYONE ASSUME BATTLE STATIONS! THIS IS NOT A TEST! I SAY AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A TEST!

PREPPING ALL NUCLEAR SILOS. WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. REPEAT, WE ARE AT DEFCON 1. MAY GOD HELP US ALL.
I'm afraid there is too much Corruption, we have no choice.

We have to perform an Exterminatus on this planet.

The emperor protects...

This isn't enough! We must cleanse the entire sector of these vile monsters!
Gentlemen, we have only one course of action now.