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IN HER NET — I remember at some point in my biology classes hearing that one behavior that separates intelligent life from less-than-bright lifeforms is an organism’s ability to use tools.
Now, I’m no entomologist, but I would say that a spider using its own webbing as a hand-held net with which to descend and capture prey would classify as tool use, albeit somewhat terrifying tool use.
This clip is from the “Planet Earth” predecessor “Life in the Undergrowth,” and the BBC captured this beautiful moment depicting the circle of life back in 2005. There’s something wonderfully discordant about the brutalities of Mother Nature being narrated by the dulcet tones of David Attenborough.
The Gladiator spider uses a special web that is “backcombed to make fuzzy,” in order to make a proper net. Instead of being sticky, the ratted up webbing is stretchy — meaning the female spider can stretch it across her eight legs, hold it in place until something snack-looking comes along and can get the webby netting secured around her dinner.
Yesterday's Have You Seen This?
Turns out, there’s a whole genus of spiders (Deinopis) that is known for its net-casting. These mainly reside in tropical/subtropical regions like Central and South America and Australia (obviously).
The slo-mo footage is incredible — which is on par for everything the BBC does – and now we know that spiders have all kinds of way they can take over the world.
If spiders upset you, may I direct you to this delightful video of a puffer fish creating a mural in the sand to attract a mate?
Or you can watch a cricket get snagged in this nightmare spider trap again.