DEC 16, 2016 07:41 AM PST

These Spiders Flew Hundreds of Miles Across the Ocean to Get to an Island

Lots of people look at spiders and see a grand total of eight legs, but no wings, and so they’ve largely been considered land creatures.

Spiders may have used their silk as kites to fly hundreds of miles across the ocean to a remote island.

On the other hand, a group of researchers that were studying a particular species of arachnids were surprised to find that one particular type of spider was linked to at least three to four different species found on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

While studying ghost spiders at Robinson Crusoe island, they learned that at some point in the distant past, spiders may have actually flown great distances of more than 100 miles to get to a new location. In this case, it may have been this very island.

These spiders didn’t have wings, but they would have utilized a flying technique that a number of spiders are capable of known as ballooning. In this act, a spider can create a kite-like object out of its own lightweight silk and can use the power of the wind to fly.

This might sound a little crazy, or perhaps even like an arachnid version of human engineering, but ballooning is a very real thing with spiders and has been observed many times in the past.

After having mastered the art of ballooning, these spiders would have drifted around 400 miles off of the coast of Chile to find their way to the remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Once there, the species would have evolved and adapted to the new territory, which is where scientists believe the three new species discoveries came from.

“Everything that lives there comes from somewhere else and evolved in a very short span of time,” says Martín Ramírez, a spider researcher with Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council.

The castaway spiders that populate the remote island a quite different from their relative in a number of ways. Many of them are far larger than their relatives, while others appear to have significantly smaller genital organs than their relatives.

Regardless of their bodily differences from their relatives, the researchers note that they’re doing very well for themselves on the island. They’re not short on numbers, so whatever they’re doing there seems to be working well for them.

At this point in time, not a lot is known about them or their mating methods, but scientists hope to learn more in future research.

Source: National Geographic

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 03, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 03, 2018
'Self-destruct switch' may let plants turn genes on and off quickly
The repressive structures that plants use to keep genes turned off involves a potential self-destruct switch, a new study suggests. The findings offer insi...
JUL 30, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 30, 2018
10th Critically-Endangered Black Rhino Dies in Kenya Following Habitat Transfer
Kenya’s Wildlife Services (KWS) are under a magnifying glass this week after a tenth black rhino has died amid attempts to relocate a handful of the...
AUG 07, 2018
Health & Medicine
AUG 07, 2018
You Want Crickets With That?
Hey everyone, it’s snack time! Come on up and grab some delicious crickets, yum yum. Said no one ever. But maybe, in the future, insects might be a s...
AUG 23, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 23, 2018
Growing Plants That Don't Need as Much Water
Parts of our world already have to deal with periods of drought, and it may only get worse....
AUG 28, 2018
Videos
AUG 28, 2018
While You Sleep This Parasitic Bug Could Chew on Your Face
It sounds like a horror movie. At night, while people are peacefully sleeping, a tiny bug crawls over their face, takes a bite, sucks some blood out, and a...
SEP 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 19, 2018
This African Bird is New to Science, and Conservationists Say It's Already in Trouble
Endemic to Africa’s mid-elevation forest space is the Willard’s Sooty Boubou, a bird species that, up until recently, wasn’t recognized b...
Loading Comments...