Brief Communications

Nature 443, 407 (28 September 2006) | doi:10.1038/443407a; Received 3 July 2006; Accepted 25 August 2006; Published online 27 September 2006

There is a Brief Communication Arising (22 October 2009) associated with this document.

Biomaterials: Silk-like secretion from tarantula feet

Stanislav N Gorb1,2, Senta Niederegger1,2,3, Cheryl Y Hayashi4, Adam P Summers2, Walter Vötsch2 and Paul Walther6

An unsuspected attachment mechanism may help these huge spiders to avoid catastrophic falls.

Spiders spin silk from specialized structures known as abdominal spinnerets — a defining feature of the creatures1, 2 — and this is deployed to capture prey, protect themselves, reproduce and disperse. Here we show that zebra tarantulas (Aphonopelma seemanni) from Costa Rica also secrete silk from their feet to provide adhesion during locomotion, enabling these spiders to cling to smooth vertical surfaces. Our discovery that silk is produced by the feet provides a new perspective on the origin and diversification of spider silk.

  1. Evolutionary Biomaterials Group, Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
  2. Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 71076 Tübingen, Germany
  3. Institute of Forensic Medicine, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany
  4. Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA
  5. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA
  6. Electron Microscopy Department, University of Ulm, 89069 Ulm, Germany

Correspondence to: Stanislav N Gorb1,2 Email: s.gorb@mf.mpg.de

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