Fish-eating spiders are taking the virtual, and the physical world by storm. A research group has recently published a study which reveals that spiders not only consume creatures smaller than they are, but ones which may even be twice as big. The study of fish-eating spiders are mind-boggling it shows that these species are found across all continents.
The scientists, who discovered and studied the fish-eating spiders, are Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel, Switzerland and Bradley Pusey from the University of Western Australia. According to The Independent, Nyffeler and Pusey gathered data of the fish-eating spiders and they have found that as much as five families of fish-eating spiders are already consuming small fish in the wild.
The new research of the fish-eating spiders has been published today. The fish-eating spiders, which now count to dozens of spider species, can be found all around the world. The reports say that the fish-eating spiders are rampant in all continents except Antarctica. However, majority have been found in North America.
According to the study of the fish-eating spiders, the creatures generally prey on insects, but some prefer to include protein in their diet, hence the consumption of small fish sometimes twice their size.
There has been former knowledge of these fish-eating spiders, even before this current study has been released. However, they were reportedly unreliable, hence Nyffeler and Pusey decided on changing that and they have conducted the first worldwide evaluation of "piscivory", or fish eating, in spiders.
Dr Nyffeler said, "The finding of such a large diversity of spiders engaging in fish predation is novel. Our evidence suggests that fish might be an occasional prey item of substantial nutritional importance."
According to website io9.com, there have been sightings of the semi-aquatic, fish-eating spiders in Florida. They reportedly catch and eat the small freshwater fish such as mosquitofish. There have also been evidence found of the fish-eating spiders habituating at the borders of shallow freshwater streams, ponds or swamps. Some are even amazingly capable of swimming, diving and walking on the water surface.
The fish-eating spiders catch their prey by anchoring its hind legs to a stone or a plant, while its front legs rest on the water surface, ready to ambush on its prey. After catching their prey, they will drag it to a dry place for feeding to begin. The feeding process reportedly takes place for several hours.
The study also explains that the fish-eating spiders were also gifted with powerful neurotoxins and enzymes which allow them to kill and digest fish bigger and heavier than their own body weight. The fish are reportedly even twice as long as the fish-eating spiders.
The study on the fish-eating spiders is named 'Fish Predation by Semi-Aquatic Spiders: A Global Pattern.' It has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Fish-eating spiders have fascinated scientists Martin Nyffeler and Bradley J. Pusey hence their extensive research. Both scientists wrote in PLoS ONE that "the notion of fish-catching spiders is rather peculiar if we consider that spiders, as a whole, are traditionally viewed as the classic example of a predator that feeds on insects."
To see a video of the amazing fish-eating spiders, click here.