Not all spiders laze the day away in a fortress of adhesive webbing, surrounded by the dying screams of mummified insects. Some actually go out and hunt for a living. And while you've got to be fast to catch prey, you've got to be even faster to escape predators.
Enter the golden wheel spider, which has a special defense to escape its erstwhile archnemesis: cartwheels.
Absolutely Wild Visuals
It might not be the most dignified or manly escape method, but it is effective. "Taking advantage of the steep slip-faces of the dunes it lives on, when threatened, the golden wheel spider will curl its legs around its body to make a ball." It will then basically tire roll down the slope to safety.
The damn things can transform. It's a spider with a friggin vehicle mode! The enemies can only shake their fists at the sky while the daredevil spider drunkenly staggers away in victory to puke his guts out.
#2. Blade Fangs
Grasshoppers, beetles and spiders all have something in common: They crunch when you smash them. That's because they're covered in chitin. Insects, arachnids, crustaceans and lots of other creatures have exoskeletons composed of this material -- it's the bug equivalent of bone, only it's on the outside.
Rainer Altenkamp, Berlin
If people had these, we wouldn't need police. Or locks.
To kill its prey, a spider has to get through this armor. And since spiders are composed of the same stuff, their fangs are also made of chitin ... which is a problem. To pierce an object, your blade has to be harder than the substance you're going through. Scientists, wondering how spiders dealt with this quandary, looked at the fangs of the feared Brazilian wandering spider, one of the deadliest arachnids in the world.
Joao P. Burini
The man in this picture is already dead.
Chemical analysis and X-ray detection showed that their fangs have metal atoms dispersed throughout, mainly copper, magnesium, iron and zinc. The metals accumulate each time the spiders molt, meaning that older spiders have harder fangs.
Biometals in bugs isn't new; leafcutter ants have a small percentage of zinc in their mandibles. But amazingly enough, almost no chitin was found in the tips of wandering spider fangs. The points, which have to endure the most stress, were composed almost entirely of metal. They literally have evolved hypodermic needles for fangs. Wandering spiders have metallically reinforced poison-injecting blades built into their faces.
Because plain ol' poison-injecting blades weren't nearly terrifying enough.
#1. Bionic Ninja Legs
In the pantheon of superpowers, one normally doesn't put "super legs" at the top. At first blush, it would seem fairly unlikely that this would ever be useful.
But in reality, spider legs have a number of incredible adaptations. Spiders are designed for crawling, climbing, skittering and all-around creepiness. Jumping, not so much. Leaping about is more the domain of muscular-legged bugs like crickets and grasshoppers. Which is why it's all the more amazing that the spider known as Portia fimbriata can essentially catapult itself at prey.
It can hurl itself up to 50 times its own body length (if you did it, it would be about 300 feet, or the length of a football field). That's farther than most grasshoppers can hop.
Suck it, grasshopper.
This is essentially what it would look like if humans could jump as far as the Portia spider (skip to the 35-second mark). More impressively, this ability doesn't even stem from unusually strong leg muscles. Instead they have hydraulic-powered legs that launch them like pistons. Somehow this much compressed power doesn't blow their little spider legs off, but research has shown that they would be OK if it did. Certain spiders can hunt just as well with six legs as with eight. They've got spares ... which in some species even grow back.
But the most amazing ability found in spider legs goes to the tarantula, which logic would dictate is far too large to do things like walk up a wall.
Incredibly, they have micro spinnerets on the bottom of their feet (not that spiders have feet, but looking up the scientific term for spider stumps sounds too much like work). To walk up walls, they can actually shoot small amounts of webbing out of their feet to stick, which helps them adhere to nearly any surface, including glass. Where most spiders rely on tiny fibers on their hands to gain traction, spiders like the tarantula are busy out-climbing Ethan Hunt.
"C'mon, slowpoke. What kind of space wizard are you?"
You can check out Monte Richard's twisted comics at Real Toy Gun.
For more reasons to distrust spiders, check out 6 Adorable Spider Behaviors You Slowly Realize Are AAAAAHHH! Or learn about 7 Real Insect Superpowers That Put Spidey Sense to Shame.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Baffling PSA Ever: Vote Like ... Spider-Man?