Scientists train spider to jump around, jump up, jump up and get down.

Written by on May 9, 2018 in Rare Critters - No comments

Bummed you can’t get your dog to fetch? Saddened you can’t get your cat to walk on a leash?

Well, leave it to some scientists to make you feel like a total failure as an animal trainer.

Researchers at the University of Manchester have taught a spider to jump on command. Then, they used CT scanning as well as high-speed, high-resolution cameras to capture the spider’s every move.

Seriously. This happened. And it’s amazing.

The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports demonstrating the athleticism of one particular Regal Jumping Spider, named Kim, as she leapt from one platform to another in impressive fashion.

“Our results show that spiders can accurately plan jumps to achieve a specific landing target.”

Researchers at the University of Manchester taught a spider to jump on demand/YouTube

While Kim can leap up to 6 times her body length, the best a human can do is 1.5.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Mostafa Nabawy, notes “The force on the legs at take-off can be up to 5 times the weight of the spider – this is amazing and if we can understand these biomechanics we can apply them to other areas of research.”

For example, what can we learn about building micro jumping robots from the real deal? And, how can we use engineering to better understand animal locomotion?

Plus, it’s pretty mesmerizing to watch.

But if spiders give you the creepy crawlies, you might want to look away.

For the record, the research wasn’t without difficulty.

Three spiders that were to be part of the study refused to jump

Only Kim was up to the task.

Kim ate one small locust a week during the study/University of Manchester

The researchers would move her between the take-off and landing platforms.

You know, show her the ropes.

That way she became familiar with the challenge. Then she’d jump varying lengths and heights. And she was neither enticed with food and encouraged with a nudge or with puff of air.

“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,” study co-author Dr. Bill Crowther, said in a statement.

Photos University of Manchester

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About the Author

Dawn Walton

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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