A spider that breathes underwater? And yes, it is real! A new species of spider has just been discovered, the Trechalea extensa. In an article published in the journal Ethology, researchers present this new species measuring 2.4 cm in length and 14.1 cm when its legs are extended. We discover in particular their trick to survive under water.
This tropical spider has found a trick to protect itself from its predators. Thanks to its hydrophobic fur, it builds an air armor to immerse itself underwater. However, the study states that these animals “are rarely known to submerge, whereas their aquatic prey is normally accessible by land.” The reason for this mechanism stems from the fact that this spider is preyed upon by other species, and to protect itself, it flees into water. The Trechalea extensa can remain submerged for more than 30 minutes.
The superpower of this spider is to be able to compensate for its lack of air, but also the loss of heat. For this, she uses her coat of fur all over her body, and she becomes hydrophobic. “The film of air surrounding the spider when underwater appears to be held in place by hydrophobic hairs covering the entire surface of the spider’s body,” says Lindsey Swierk, one of the researchers. She adds that this armor of air and hair is “so complete that the spider almost looks like it’s been dipped in silver.” Thanks to this mechanism, heat losses are less for the spider: “for many species, getting wet and cold is almost as risky for survival as facing their predators to begin with”.