Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Trap-jaw Spiders Strike like Lightning

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Mecysmaucheniidae spiders, which live only in New Zealand and southern South America, are drab and tiny spiders that hunt for prey on the ground. However, a study published in Current Biology (http://tinyurl.com/hyg9ulv) has found that these spiders have a remarkable ability to strike their prey with lightning speed.

Lead author Hannah Wood of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History says that the Mecysmaucheniid family of spiders sit with their jaw-like chelicerae open and ready to snap when insect prey come close enough to strike. “The high-speed predatory attacks of these spiders were previously unknown,” she says. “Many of the species I have been working with are also unknown to the scientific community.”

While this kind of predatory behaviour had been seen before in some ants, Wood says it was unknown in arachnids. Furthermore, Wood’s team estimated that this...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.