Photo credit: Unilad
Ever wonder if spiders would still be able to weave webs in space? If so, this study from a group of researchers should answer that question. They discovered that under natural conditions, trichonephila spiders built asymmetric webs with the hub near the upper edge of the web. They did this so the could always orient themselves downwards when sitting on the hub whilst waiting for prey. However, these asymmetries are considered to be linked to gravity, so they expected the spiders experiencing zero gravity to build symmetric webs and to show a random orientation when sitting on the hub. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Upon closer observation, they found that webs built when the lights were on were more asymmetric (with the hub near the lights) than with them off. Plus, spiders showed a random orientation when the lights were off but faced away from the lights when they were on. This means in no gravity, spiders can use the direction of light to serve as an orientation guide when building webs and waiting for prey on the hub.
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We wouldn’t have guessed that light would play a role in orienting the spiders in space. We were very fortunate that the lamps were attached at the top of the chamber and not on various sides. Otherwise, we would not have been able to discover the effect of light on the symmetry of webs in zero gravity,” said Samuel Zschokke, University of Basel.