It's bad enough that spiders can crawl. Now a group of scientists has trained a species of spider... to JUMP on demand. (shudder)
The team from the University of Manchester trained a species of jumping spider, known as Phidippus regius, or the "regal jumping spider."
The spider is about the size of a human fingernail with a bite relatively harmless to humans. The species is common to the West Indies and the United States, with the largest populations in Florida.
The team has nicknamed the spider "Kim."
The scientists used 3D CT scanning and high-speed, high-resolution cameras to record the acrobatic arachnid in a bid to better understand how they catch their prey and potentially inspire a new class of agile micro-robots.
The new study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, found that it adapts its jumping technique depending on the challenge presented to it.
For shorter, close-range distances, "Kim" used a faster, lower trajectory. The strategy used up more energy, but minimized flight time, making it more accurate and more effective for capturing its prey. But when jumping longer distances or to an elevated platform Kim used the most efficient technique possible to reduce the amount of energy used.
Researchers hope that understanding the biomechanics of jumping spider anatomy could help engineers develop a new class of robot able to perform feats of movement beyond current technology.
Dr. Mostafa Nabawy, the lead author of the study, said: "A jumping spider can leap up to six times its body length from a standing start. The best a human can achieve is about 1.5 body lengths. The force on the legs at take-off can be up to five times the weight of the spider. This is amazing! And if we can understand these biomechanics, we can apply them to other areas of research."
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