(ORDO NEWS) — American and Portuguese scientists have described a long immersion in water – up to half an hour – spiders of the species Trechalea extensa, thus escaping from a possible threat. An article about this was published in the journal Ethology.
Trechalea extensa is a large species of neotropical “semi-aquatic” spiders of the family Trechaleidae. They are found in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
While under water, T. extensa use a special airy film that covers their entire body. Binghamton University researcher Lindsey Swirk and her colleagues observed how T. extensa escapes from people and hides under water.
“For many species, getting wet and freezing is almost as dangerous to survival as dealing with predators,” said Dr. Svirk. “Trechalea spiders were not previously known to hide under water from threats – and it was even more difficult to imagine that they could be in their makeshift shelter for so long.”
T. extensa spent about 30 minutes underwater. Being under water, he maintained an “air film” throughout his body.
The researchers believe that the fluffy hairs that cover its abdomen and limbs help to keep this airy film in working condition for a long time, which helps prevent heat loss under water or water from entering the spider’s respiratory organs.
“The air film that surrounds the spider when it is underwater is held in place by hydrophobic hairs that cover the entire surface of the spider’s body,” says Svirk.
“The spider in it looks like it has been dipped in silver. The air film serves to protect the respiratory tract from water, since these spiders breathe air. It also helps to minimize heat loss in the cold stream where the spider dives.”
These observations provide new insights into how different species may be coping with the challenge of finding shelter underwater.
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