Most spiders defend themselves with a bite, but this species? It busts a move.
When provoked or threatened, the flic-flac spider literally “flips out” and starts cartwheeling away to safety. These somersaulting maneuvers double the spider’s normal walking speed by propelling it forward (or backwards!) at 6 feet-per-second.
Despite how effective this evasive action is, flic-flac spiders have to flip sparingly. Somersaulting requires so much energy that it could actually cost the spider its life, so it’s used only as a last resort. Dr. Peter Jäger, the Scientist who discovered the spider stated, “If it performs this five to 10 times within one day, then it dies.”
In addition to avoiding predators, flic-flacs have to withstand scorching desert temperatures. To avoid the heat of the midday sun, they emerge only during the night hours and spend their days in a tube-like burrow within the cool sand. When the sun goes down, they begin the hunt for their favorite meal of delectable moths.
This teensy spider’s funky moves have inspired the development of a novel robot design that could eventually be used to collect data on the ocean floor or the surface of Mars!