Scientists working in Panama and Peru dropped over 50 spiders out of trees to see how the arachnids handled the fall. The results are likely to give many people nightmares. The spiders were actually able to glide in a controlled manner which resulted in them landing back on the tree trunk or in other cover.
According to National Geographic:
The daredevil arachnids seem to steer themselves through the air with movements of their outstretched forelegs, according to a study published August 19 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
It’s an unexpected talent for spiders, which have no history of either flight or wings, scientists say.
“We really did not expect to see gliding behavior in spiders,” says study leader Stephen Yanoviak, a tropical arthropod ecologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
“There are no winged spiders. Spiders don’t fly.”
The spiders in question are perfect for these kinds of maneuvers. They are very wide (about the same width as a can of soup, but very flat. This allows them to catch the wind as they fall.