Print 49 comment(s) - last by FaaR.. on Sep 27 at 6:06 AM

C. darwini web and female  (Source: Journal of Arachnology)
Caerostris darwini uses a silk twice as elastic as other web-weaving spiders

A spider called Caerostris darwini, which resides in the deep jungles of Madagascar, is now known for spinning the largest webs in the world. Not only that, but they also spin their webs using a type of silk that is consider the strongest biological material.

Igni Agnarsson, a zoologist from the University of Puerto Rico, along with Matjaz Kuntner, a biologist from the Slovenian Academy of Sciences, discovered C. darwini in 2008. It is also called Darwin's bark spider, and is one-inch wide. This spider is capable of covering 30-square-foot areas, and hangs midair from 80-foot-long anchor lines. 

C. darwini builds these massive webs in the airspace above rivers and streams. This is odd because no other spider in these areas uses the air column above rivers and streams the way C. darwini's do. This practice of utilizing this unique area evolved from the C. darwini's migration to Madagascar's rivers.  

The size of these webs leads to "enormous structural stresses" that is made much worse by trapped prey trying to escape from the web when caught. The thick strands of silk must absorb kinetic energy before it breaks. Even with these structural stresses, Agnarsson notes that these silk webs are 10 times better than Kevlar, which is a fiber material that draws its strength from its weave. 

C. darwini's silk, which is twice as elastic as any silk from "other web-weaving spiders," is the toughest biological substance because of this elasticity. The strength of these silk webs helps provide large amounts of food, catching dozens of insects at a time. The web is also capable of catching bats and birds

There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the C. darwini and its web, such as the molecular underpinnings of the webs elasticity, how exactly the webs are built, and how these small spiders maintain these enormous webs. Agnarsson and Kuntner plan to study these questions further. 

This study was published in PLoS One.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

neat !
By kattanna on 9/21/2010 12:14:14 PM , Rating: 4
i always enjoy seeing how life's various creatures adapt to opportunities and such.

on a humorous note, i can see the "star" of the next scifi original movie LOL

RE: neat !
By JasonMick on 9/21/2010 12:30:59 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed... evolution at its finest.

And I for one am looking forward to Megapiranha vs. Megaspider, my fingers are crossed that SciFi can cobble together a sufficient list of Hollywood castoffs.

RE: neat !
By MrTeal on 9/21/2010 1:14:26 PM , Rating: 4
Gary Busey and Daniel Baldwin are always looking for work, or at least coke and bail money...

RE: neat !
By marvdmartian on 9/21/2010 2:38:06 PM , Rating: 3
And I'd bet they could pick up Lindsay Lohan for a song (and a snort) now too! ;)

RE: neat !
By tastyratz on 9/21/2010 10:13:21 PM , Rating: 3
I have a feeling scifi original movies and pbs will be all we see of lohan future. self made c list...

RE: neat !
By Samus on 9/23/2010 12:19:39 PM , Rating: 4
I, for one, welcome our new spider overlords.

RE: neat !
By GTVic on 9/21/2010 5:53:15 PM , Rating: 4
Randy Quaid is looking for rent money :)

RE: neat !
By YashBudini on 9/21/2010 4:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
I just saw MegaFault and I can't understand why it wasn't on the Comedy Channel. And it had real actors in it. What the hell were they thinking?

RE: neat !
By YashBudini on 9/21/2010 4:58:48 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed... evolution at its finest.

I have no idea why you're being rated down. I took you to zero and it lasted all of 10 seconds.

RE: neat !
By Connoisseur on 9/21/2010 12:46:23 PM , Rating: 5
I can see the title of the Sci-Fi movie too.... World Wide WEB!

"A race of ancient giant mutant spiders threatens to engulf the world unless a xenobiologist, some backwoods hicks and a couple of hot chicks rafting down the river don't stop it."

RE: neat !
By Hieyeck on 9/21/2010 2:33:25 PM , Rating: 2
Why not roll it all into one?

A hot backwoods xenobiologist chick-hick.

Costuming would have a ball with that.

RE: neat !
By FaaR on 9/27/2010 6:06:10 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot the atomic bomb they'll be needing to end the spiders' tyranny.

Atomic bombs solve any plot hole in a movie, they can do everything from stopping rogue asteroids threatening civilization to restarting the planet's core so we're not vaporized by radiation. What a fantastic invention!

RE: neat !
By FaceMaster on 9/21/2010 6:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yesssss! Now we can exploit its webs to make the World Wide Web far more reliable and faster than ever before.

RE: neat !
By jconan on 9/23/2010 10:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
Lost in Space featured space spiders as its villains.

By kd9280 on 9/21/2010 1:08:57 PM , Rating: 2
Did anyone see the part where it said they catch birds and bats?! Holy FSM that's a freaky insect!

RE: Umm..
By kd9280 on 9/21/2010 1:11:23 PM , Rating: 5
Arachnids are not insects *self-sigh*

RE: Umm..
By Camikazi on 9/21/2010 1:12:13 PM , Rating: 2
Greedy spider, one inch wide and eats bats and birds, good lord it has a big stomach.

RE: Umm..
By kd9280 on 9/21/2010 3:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
Don't think it eats them, but it catches them!

RE: Umm..
By Tiffany Kaiser on 9/21/2010 7:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, the original article said the web had the strength to catch bats and birds, but did not say anything about C. darwini eating them. I'd be real surprised if it could, considering the much larger spider that Mortando posted below can't even eat a whole bird. Scary stuff, but interesting nonetheless.

RE: Umm..
By AstroGuardian on 9/24/2010 4:41:32 AM , Rating: 2
And does what? Rape them?

RE: Umm..
By LoweredExpectations on 9/21/2010 11:46:01 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think spiders eat as most other creatures do: instead of biting off chunks of flesh, they inject an enzyme that liquefies internal tissues, then they suck out the nutrients. So maybe one of these spiders could 'eat' a small bird.

RE: Umm..
By WLee40 on 9/24/2010 1:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It'd be a much smaller volume liquified. Feathers, bones, cartilage would remain. Plus, it could "sip" on the captive for days!

RE: Umm..
By Mortando on 9/21/2010 3:03:37 PM , Rating: 3
I'm still recovering from the horror of this guy:

RE: Umm..
By niva on 9/22/2010 1:10:55 PM , Rating: 2

Never saw that before, thanks for the link, awesome photo.

RE: Umm..
By JasonMick on 9/21/2010 11:13:23 PM , Rating: 3

Did anyone see the part where it said they catch birds and bats?! Holy FSM that's a freaky insect!

I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords!

new body armor?
By dgingeri on 9/21/2010 12:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Agnarsson notes that these silk webs are 10 times better than Kevlar, which is a fiber material that draws its strength from its weave.

hmmm... sounds like it might be good to duplicate to make stronger body armor. Investment opportunity?

RE: new body armor?
By Murloc on 9/21/2010 12:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
even normal silk is much better, but it's not easy to reproduce

RE: new body armor?
By sviola on 9/21/2010 2:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Wll, you can always set up a spider farm...

RE: new body armor?
By Iketh on 9/22/2010 12:00:40 AM , Rating: 4
Farms are probably not feasible considering spiders remake their webs largely by eating their old one...

RE: new body armor?
By MojoMan on 9/22/2010 4:18:55 PM , Rating: 2
They are trying to produce silk using "spider goats." -_- Don't "look" at me like that! Here's a link! Lol...

RE: new body armor?
By MojoMan on 9/22/2010 4:20:18 PM , Rating: 2
Can we PLEASE get an edit button? I saw further down that somebody posted that link already. Just wanted to apologize for the duplicate post, and ask for an edit button like so many others have done before me. LOL...

RE: new body armor?
By Connoisseur on 9/21/2010 12:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... this stuff will only stop bullets if it's woven together into much thicker strands. Otherwise, you'll just have a suit made of silk which stretches a lot and not much else. making this stuff into even one vest would probably be crazy expensive.

RE: new body armor?
By MozeeToby on 9/21/2010 2:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
Too stretchy to easily make good body armor, lots of people have tried without much luck. There are a few companies that sell it for other uses, and at least one that is doing research into body armor and other defense related uses. Take a look at BioSteel ( for an amazing example, especially note the genetically modified goats that they use to produce the spider silk. If you saw it in a movie you'd complain about how unrealistic it is, but it's true.

RE: new body armor?
By dgingeri on 9/21/2010 4:16:52 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, that's cool. Maybe with this spider they'll find a better gene to splice into the goats to get better BioSteel.

maybe they'll end up creating massive super spider goats that start hunting humans for food! How cool would that be?

hehe, just kidding around.

if i ever see that thing..
By cokbun on 9/21/2010 1:02:25 PM , Rating: 5
i will scream like a girl.. i swear

RE: if i ever see that thing..
By Camikazi on 9/21/2010 1:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
Then you shouldn't look behind you...

RE: if i ever see that thing..
By kb9fcc on 9/21/2010 1:24:58 PM , Rating: 2
Did you take a close look of the guy in the picture above? He looks like he's about ready to scream, too...

Shelobicus Darwini
By fezzik1620 on 9/21/2010 2:20:55 PM , Rating: 5
They should have named it Shelobicus Darwini.


RE: Shelobicus Darwini
By bobsmith1492 on 9/21/2010 6:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
My first though: "They found Shelob!"

strongest huh
By RugMuch on 9/21/2010 1:52:15 PM , Rating: 1
So, using the Mohr's Circle helps determine the elastic calculations through use of yield strength and deformation, but without seeing these gradients I would not "consider" anything.

What does an entomologist know about structural strength? Maybe another soft severed rumor. There are materials such as carbon fibers that are theoretically strong enough to carry an house. Although, when you look at the rate of tearing the individual fibers it causes the carbon rope to become useless. I wouldn't get my panties in a twist over this.

Not, to mention the economical viability of this fiber.

RE: strongest huh
By PaterPelligrino on 9/21/2010 2:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
What I want to know is when will we have a material light enough and strong enough to manufacture the cable for a space elevator?

That dude...
By Sazabi19 on 9/21/2010 2:50:03 PM , Rating: 3
In the picture is saying "Hory shet!" lmao

I for one
By BigToque on 9/21/2010 10:32:45 PM , Rating: 3
I, for one, welcome my new web spinning overlord.

By fic2 on 9/21/2010 6:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
Is there a place to sign up to get bit by a radio active one?

Now if only i thought about ...
By firesvaux on 9/21/2010 8:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
If only I thought about studying spiders and their webs when I was living there.

Fantastic Fauna and Flora in Madagascar, like the many poisinous frogs.

The spiders you saw a lot in Madagascar, even in Antananarivo were the Golden Silk Orb Weaver. Pretty scary in their own right, but not dangerous thankfully.

I'm confused about the terms used
By Howard on 9/22/2010 12:20:27 AM , Rating: 2
Twice as elastic? Does that mean that the modulus of elasticity is twice as high or that the tensile strength is twice as high?

unproven assumptions
By jahwarrior on 9/22/2010 1:26:43 AM , Rating: 1
This practice of utilizing this unique area evolved from the C. darwini's migration to Madagascar's rivers.

nice unproven assumption taken as scientific fact...your science is great jason mick....evolution at its finest what a joke..evolution did this and that with no scientific proof to back it up...

RE: unproven assumptions
By Kim Leo on 9/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: unproven assumptions
By JKflipflop98 on 9/25/10, Rating: -1
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki