Beware the dead spider robots!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science saying: “Quick! Grab a shoe”.
Ready, aim and…Wack! The spider falls to the ground. Watch as its legs curl. Yuck! Why do they do that!?
Enter Te Faye Yap and team from Rice University.
They learned that spiders DON’T use muscles to extend their legs. It’s PRESSURE from their circulatory system! As fluid rushes in, they extend their legs outward. When they die, pressure is lost and their legs curl. Like the claw game at the arcade…
This gave the researchers an idea. They attached a syringe to dead spiders and pushed fluid in and out. The dead-spiderleg-claw could carry over ONE HUNDRED THIRTY percent of its body weight. And it was strong enough to pull wires out of a circuit!
The researchers believe these spiders-turned-robots could be used to assemble microelectronics. They could even be used to collect specimens without causing damage!
But… Ewwwwgggg… What’s wrong with plain old tweezers?!
Yap, T. F., Liu, Z., Rajappan, A., Shimokusu, T. J., & Preston, D. J. (2022). Necrobotics: Biotic Materials as Ready to Use Actuators. Advanced Science, 2201174.