Phenomena

Hydraulics Make Spiders So Creepy

There’s something about the way spiders move that many of us find inherently creepy. And that something, it turns out, is fluid dynamical. Unlike humans and other vertebrates, spiders don’t move using two sets of opposing muscles. The natural state of their multi-jointed legs causes them to flex inward. This is why dead spiders have their legs all curled up.

To walk, spiders use hydraulic pressure. They pump a fluid called hemolymph into their legs to force them to straighten. If you look closely, you’ll notice that spiders’ legs always connect to the front section of their body. This is called the cephalothorax, and it acts like a sort of bellows that controls the pressure and flow of hemolymph. It moves the hemolymph around the spider’s body in a fraction of a second, allowing spiders to be quite fast, but something about the movement still feels off for those of us used to vertebrate motion. Happy Halloween, everyone!  (Image credit: R. Miller, source; see also; submitted by jpshoer)

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