These Spiders Attack with World’s Fastest Spin

Flattie spider with a moth as its prey. Image: JHK via Wikimedia Commons

Best of luck to any insect trying to sneak past this spider. This eight-legged predator will have its meal in the blink of an eye. Actually, less.

According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, “flattie spiders” from the family Selenopidae can use their long legs to spin around nearly three times faster than the human eye can blink.

Researchers at the University of California Merced and the California Academy of Sciences slowed down high-speed footage (to the naked eye, the spinning just looks like a blur), and discovered that the flattie spiders can turn and pounce in just one-eighth of a second, making them one of the world’s fastest spinners.

Image: Charles J Sharp via Wikimedia Commons

So how do they do it? When the spider is in a neutral position, its long legs are spread wide and parallel to the ground. When it senses prey approaching (it doesn’t actually see its quarry so much as sense a change in the air current), the leg closest to the prey works like an anchor point while the legs on the opposite side push off the ground. The other legs get tucked in close to the body (imagine a figure skater performing a spinning jump), and the resulting torque pushes the spider into a perfectly executed spin.

They can sense prey coming from any direction and spin up to 3,000 degrees per second—meaning they complete three full spins in the time it takes you to blink. They’re the fastest-spinning land animal, moving about as quickly as the incredibly speedy hummingbird. It’s all fascinating if you’re a scientist or a spider enthusiast, but so great if you’re a tasty bug!

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