Two related desert spiders prefer to escape from the scorching sun under the earth, tearing out deep holes in the sand. However, nature has endowed them with completely different tools for creating a temporary home.
Anyone who at least once in his life tried to build a castle from dry sand, faced with a number of obvious problems: the grains of sand do not stick together and fall apart easily, and therefore it is practically impossible to create a complex and reliable structure from them. This is most relevant for those who live in the sand: however, the animals have learned to adapt. The famous spider Cebrennus rechenbergi, who as a gymnast tumbles in the desert in case of danger, is notable not only for his acrobatic abilities. He knows how to dig in the sand deep (up to 25 cm) tunnels, in which he shelters from the scorching Moroccan sun.
Setae S. rechenbergi help him in digging underground holes
Recently, the researchers found in the sands of his “younger brother”, Evippomma rechenbergi, who also knows how to dig intricate burrows. It turned out, however, that the tactics of digging at relatives are completely different – scientists report this in a work published in the Journal of Arachnology. C. rechenbergi chooses a place for digging, then scoops the sand and puts it into an improvised basket, formed by thick and frequent bristles. E. rechenbergi does not have such bristles, and therefore he independently glues the sand with each other with a thin arachnoid filament. To ensure that the walls and ceiling of tunnels do not collapse under their own weight, spiders also braid their webs – and therefore the design remains stable even if the surrounding sand massif was somehow removed.
This is how grains of sand,
The construction of a new house spider takes about 2 hours, during which he alternately digs and weaves spider rings. In the end, it closes the entrance to the burrow with a special lid, which helps to further stabilize the structure. Perhaps in the future it will inspire engineers to create a new, durable sand building material and sticky materials.