Scientists train regal jumping spider called Kim to leap on demand

Spiders Research

Scientists train regal jumping spider called Kim to leap on demand

At roughly 15 millimetres in length, these little fellas can jump at least 60 millimetres. We are capable of jumping only around 1.5 body lengths. Secondly the project used the improved understanding of spiders to imagine a new class of agile micro-robots that are now unthinkable using today's engineering technologies.

The scientists did not use prey or bait as an incentive, but instead transported the spider between take-off and landing platforms until she became familiar with the challenge. Her name was Kim. The team then recorded the jumps using ultra-high-speed cameras, and used high resolution micro CT scans to create a 3D model of Kim's legs and body structure in unprecedented detail.

The footage revealed that Kim had several different jumping techniques.

To jump shorter close-range distances, for instance, the spider was found to prefer faster and lower trajectory which involves the use of more energy but minimal flight time.

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However, when Kim was faced with a longer distance or a jump onto an elevated platform, she opted to use a more efficient method which used less energy.

This odd experiment, detailed in the video below, was devised by researchers from the University of Manchester in the U.K. This imaginative team trained Kim to jump on command so that they could observe the hunting behavior of these predatory spiders, which catch their prey by leaping unto it.

Out of the four jumping spiders recruited for the study, "only one was happy to jump as required", Nabawy told me. What's more, the force they used to propel themselves can be up to 5 times the weight of the arachnid.

Scientists have known for more than 50 years that spiders use internal hydraulic pressure to extend their legs, but what isn't known is if this hydraulic pressure is actively used to enhance or replace muscle force when the spiders jump. Kim is the world's first jumping spider that got trained in the lab so that scientists could understand the mechanics of its vaulting skills.

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Study co-author Dr Bill Crowther, also from the University of Manchester, added: "Our results suggest that whilst Kim can move her legs hydraulically, she does not need the additional power from hydraulics to achieve her extraordinary jumping performance".

"Spiders represent a unique class of natural jumping insects - they offer exemplary jumping behavior at the small scale with evidence of intelligence in assessing surroundings and planning prey capture". It also has important implications for building teeny tiny yjumping robots. The scientists hope that understanding the biomechanics will help them create micro-robots for military or other purposes.

Because, while we normally see spiders in that perpetual crouch, spiders are actually insane good at jumping.

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