Scientists in the Field
Spiral Notebook
Spiders Sighted Hatching from Silkhenge!
by Harriet Low
January 26, 2017
Spiders Sighted Hatching from Silkhenge!
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“Spider silk can be stronger than steel and even stronger than Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests.”

This quick excerpt from Stronger Than Steelby Bridget Heos and with photographs by Andy Comins, highlights just one way spider silk is so remarkable–and why scientists are trying to find ways to produce and harvest more of it.

The type of spider highlighted in this Scientists in the Field title is a golden orb weaver. Female golden orb weavers can actually spin six kinds of thread, each with its own strength and elongation ability. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that different spiders have developed ingenious ways to spin silk perfect for their own purposes, like this mysterious structure, photographed and posted by entomologist Phil Torres.

Nicknamed “silkhenge,” this striking formation of spider silk was also filmed by Torres when baby spiders began hatching out of it, in the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador! As you can see in the video, scientists still aren’t sure about the species of spider that they caught on film, but they’re well on their way to finding out through DNA sequencing.

Curious about how spiders go about spinning their silk, how scientists are trying to produce more of it, how spider DNA plays a crucial role, or what the potential benefits for us humans might be? Check out Stronger Than Steel!



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