How many legs does a spider have? 3 Interesting Facts About Spider Legs
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Spiders are fascinating creatures with amazing abilities such as spinning webs and climbing many kinds of surfaces. Many of these skills can actually be traced back to the spider's unique anatomy, including its legs. But how many legs does a spider have?
If you don't know the answer to this question, don't worry. Below you will learn how many legs spiders have and many more interesting facts. Ready to learn more? continue reading!
Spider Legs: How Many Are They?
When you first learn how many legs a spider has, it can be a little confusing. That's because you probably already know that insects have six legs, and spiders look a lot like insects.
However, it is important to know that spiders are not insects. Both spiders and insects belong to the phylum Arthropoda. This means they don't have a spine; they have a rigid skeleton outside their segmented body, and their legs are articulated. However, although they belong to the same phylum, spiders belong to a separate class called arachnids. Other arachnids include ticks and scorpions.
So now that you know more about the difference between spiders and insects, how many legs does a spider have? All true species of spiders, as well as other arachnids, have eight legs.
3 Fun Facts About Spider Legs
In fact, having four pairs of spider legs isn't the only cool part about spider legs. From vertical climbing on almost any surface to courtship, spider legs are an essential part of their lives. As such, there are plenty of fun facts to know about these limbs, including these three fun spider leg facts below!
They cannot straighten their legs.
Just like spider legs don't work like insect legs, they don't work like human legs either. This means they have different muscles and walk differently.
You see, spiders don't actually have the natural ability to extend their legs like we do. Their muscles can't work in a way that allows them to stretch their legs. Instead, their muscles only allow them to retract their legs, or pull them closer to their body.
In order to extend their legs, spiders must go through several additional steps. They have a specific fluid that they pump into their legs. This allows them to extend their legs out and fully extend them. Then, they are able to use their muscles to retract their legs.
Have you ever seen a dead spider? You may notice them curled up with their legs tucked under their body. This is because once they pass, they can no longer move fluid around their body, which means they can no longer extend their legs. As a result, their legs return to their retracted, natural state.
They do an intricate courtship dance with their legs.
Through all this stretching and contracting, spiders are actually able to do some pretty neat things with their legs. This involves creating and performing elaborate dances to attract the attention and favor of potential mates.
Not all species of spiders perform courtship dances. However, it is not uncommon in the spider world. Different species of spiders perform different movements and dances, and some even imitate human dances. This includes peacock spiders ( Maratus volans ), whose dances resemble the human "YMCA" dance.
However, if a spider's dance doesn't impress a female, the price to pay is greater than simply not getting a mate. For some species, including peacock spiders, failure to dance to obtain a female can lead to her attempting to attack, kill, and eat the unsuccessful male. Talk about a tough crowd!
Spiders have sticky "hairs" on their feet.
Above, you learned that spiders use their legs to climb on many surfaces, including their webs and vertical surfaces. However, how did their eight legs do it? As it turns out, they have the unique ability to harness dry adhesion.
When you think of adhesion, you probably think of glue or similar substances. However, spiders don't have a sticky fluid on their feet that would allow them to stick to things. Instead, they have sticky little "hairs" called spatulas. The scoops on the spider's legs grow in many different directions. This allows them to easily attach and stick to various surfaces and move in different directions on that surface.
Spider legs and feet are actually very similar to geckos when it comes to sticking to different surfaces.
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about the author
I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a BA in English Literature and a double minor in Biology and Professional Technical Writing. I love everything to do with animals and nature! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also love sharks and alligators. In my free time, I enjoy watching documentaries and exploring nature.
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