What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Spider? Sinister, predators, dark, threatening, hairy creatures that jump at you from walls? Well, then it is time for you to meet Kim, world’s first spider who jumps only when told to.
A team of scientists from the University of Manchester, led by aeronautical engineer, Dr Mostafa Nabawy, wanted to learn the science behind the extraordinary leap of jumping spiders. In order to study this species, they went to a pet store and bought four female regal jumping spiders and started training them.
Training these spider was a tough task. Since they ate only once a week, tempting them with food was of no use. The scientists after a lot of brainstorming came up with an alternative worth trying. They tried to train the spiders by physically moving them back and forth with the help of two movable platforms that could be adjusted for height and distance.
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Despite all these efforts they could teach only one and named her, Kim. She performed 15 jumping tasks, leaping up and down, across platforms, while the researches filmed her on high-speed cameras.
She never missed,” Nabawy says stunned. “She didn’t jump unless she was confident she could make the jump.” The researcher believes Kim can probably jump even higher but, is unable to do so because of her vision which is not strong enough to see beyond six body lengths.
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They also modelled Kim in 3-D to study the movement of her legs.
Kim helped scientists understand the different strategies that spiders use to make the leap.
After Kim, the researchers have decided to study about the jumps of different species as well. They aim is to find specific functions performed by insects and animals to help in the advancement of robotics.