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Tarantulas shoot silk from their feet

Unique ability may help prevent the heavy spiders from falling

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5:18pm, May 23, 2011

Comic books may have gotten their science right after all. Some spiders may indeed grip walls by shooting silk Spiderman-style from their limbs.

New experiments support the idea that tarantulas can shoot silk from their feet to grip a slippery surface. The notion had been dismissed previously, but researchers say they have spotted silk footprints left behind by spiders in precarious positions. What’s more, electron microscopy reveals hairlike projections on tarantula feet that could be silk extruders, insect behaviorist Claire Rind and colleagues at Newcastle University in England report in the June 1 Journal of Experimental Biology.

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