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Study reveals key mechanism in formation of spider silk

Study reveals key mechanism in formation of spider silk

Science
May 29 (UPI) -- A team of scientists has discovered a previously unidentified structural component key to the formation of spider silk and its extraordinary strength. Prized for its strength and flexibility, material scientists have long tried to produce synthetic analogs for spider silk. The results of previous efforts, however, have been mixed. Studies have shown the importance of beta sheets, or beta strands, the secondary structure in spider silk proteins, but scientists have struggled to understand how these strength-giving structures form. The transformation from soluble proteins to crystalized silk happens fast, making it difficult to study the proteins' structures. In order to gain new insights into the formation process, scientists at Japan's RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resourc...
How a spider jumps on its prey – science has the answer

How a spider jumps on its prey – science has the answer

Science
Scientists have trained a spider to jump on demand.The diminutive arachnid, which they nicknamed Kim, can leap six times her body length from a standing start.Humans only manage about 1.5 body lengths.Unlocking the secrets of her extraordinary leaps could help build a new generation of robots inspired by nature, say University of Manchester researchers.The regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) is known for its ability to make precision leaps to pounce on prey, including insects and small invertebrates.It is one of thousands of jumping spiders that are found worldwide and hunt actively rather than catching prey in a web. They have excellent vision, with four large eyes in front and four smaller eyes on the top of their head.The research team filmed the jumping arachnid with high-tech cam...
Ancient tailed spider trapped in amber offers insights into origin of spiders

Ancient tailed spider trapped in amber offers insights into origin of spiders

Science
Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a new spider species, an arachnid with a tail, hiding in a piece of ancient amber.The amber fossil is roughly 100 million years old and could offer new insights into the origin and evolution of spiders during the Cretaceous period. Amber sourced from Myanmar has become a popular source of scientistic discoveries in recent years."Interest stepped up about ten years ago when it was discovered this amber was mid-Cretaceous," Paul Selden, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas, said in a news release. "Therefore, all the insects found in it were much older than first thought."Selden is the author of a paper describing the spider species, published this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution."It's [amber] been coming into China where de...
Study reveals 18 new pelican spider species

Study reveals 18 new pelican spider species

Science
Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Researchers with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have discovered 18 new species of pelican spider, a group of arachnids that look as absurd as they sound.The new species were discovered living in the jungles of Madagascar, an African island in the Indian Ocean that hosts a plethora of endemic plant and animal species -- species not found anywhere else on Earth.Arachnologists Hannah Wood and Nikolaj Scharff conducted their survey using specimens collected during their own field work as well as spiders found during an arthropod survey organized by the California Academy of Sciences.Most spiders are opportunistic, eating whatever gets stuck in their web. As such, many spiders occasionally eat other spiders. Pelican spiders, however, eat only other spiders...
New species of spider revealed, named after Bob Marley

New species of spider revealed, named after Bob Marley

Science
Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A new species of water-adapted spiders has been discovered on Australia's coral reefs, with researchers naming it after reggae star Bob Marley for his song "High Tide or Low Tide."The team of researchers that discovered Desis bobmarleyi sp. n -- Dr. Barbara Baehr, Dr. Robert Raven and Dr. Danilio Harms of the University of Queensland and the University of Hamburg -- named the spider based on it's ability to survive both in and out of water.The intertidal spiders adapted to become true marine animals, the researchers say, adjusting to life underwater by hiding in barnacle shells, kelp or corals during high tide along the coast of Australia's Queensland state.They developed air chambers to breathe, using silk, and when the tide recedes they can be found hunting small inverte...