Spider-Man Who? Watch This Amazing Arachnid Somersault Through the Desert

A new spider species shows off surprisingly acrobatic moves.
May 7, 2014·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

It’s an arachnophobe’s nightmare come true: an athletic spider that can somersault at more than 6.5 feet per second.

Cebrennus rechenbergi, or “flic flac,” is a newly discovered species that lurks beneath the sandy surface of the Erg Chebbi desert in Morocco. The nocturnal spider mostly stays in a tube-shaped home woven out of sand and silk. It emerges to hunt for food at night; the gymnastic ability comes in handy when fleeing scorpions and other unfriendly spiders.

Scientist Ingo Rechenberg spotted the agile arachnid during an evening walk in Erg Chebbi, where he’s been observing desert animals to find out how they conserve energy. To further his study, Rechenberg has built a tiny robot to mimic the spider’s impressive moves. Other humanlike machines struggle to move across sand; this one doesn’t.

“This robot may be employed in agriculture, on the ocean floor or even on Mars,” Rechenberg told Discovery News.

As for the spiders, too much gymnastic flipping can be deadly. Because the activity takes so much energy, five to 10 cartwheeling sessions in one day can cause the creature to keel over.