Figure 1: The spider web is made of interwoven non-sticky (blue) and sticky (red) silk threads.
Figure 2: The mechanical properties of web differ greatly between spider species. The photo shows a sampling of spider webs made of the toughest biological material.
Figure 3: Producing spider web in the laboratory. Large quantities of material produced in this way are later used for the analysis of web components.
Figure 4: Spider glue reacts differently depending on the ambient humidity, temperature and pulling speed. This data, combined with knowledge of the glue’s chemical structure, could help improve synthetic glues in the future.
Figure 5: Microscopic display of pulling the sticky thread from the surface.
Author: Matjaž Gregorič is an arachnologist and evolutionary biologist. He researches biodiversity and the mechanisms that generate it. He is particularly interested in exceptional biological materials and in the way natural and sexual selection influence animal behaviour. His research subjects are primarily spiders and their webs. He is also a film and sports enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter at @matjazgregoric.
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