Scientists study impact of temperature on Texas Brown Tarantulas

Scientists study impact of temperature on Texas Brown Tarantulas

A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology has revealed that tarantulas, a fast-moving spider, moves faster in warmer weather.

The researchers studied eight adult Texas brown tarantulas (Aphonopelma hentzi) and tested their speed in a variety of temperatures. They tested their agility temperatures, 59, 75, 88 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (15, 24, 31 and 40 degrees Celsius).

Spiders have two joints along each leg. The one closest to the body typically extends first when they're walking or running.

In order to each spider's coordination, researchers painted a white dot on each of the joints on a foreleg and hind leg. They compared the angle of the two joints on each leg and then filmed the spiders scuttling down a runway.

The researchers found that they ran hurriedly and tended to turn around and get into an attack stance when they were placed in hotter temperatures or the temperatures that were higher or lower than that range that was set for the excitement.

Speeds at the warmest temperature tested, 40°C (104°F) were 2.5 times faster than speeds at the coldest 15°C (59°F). The reason for their temperature sensitivity is due to the fact that these spiders don’t rely mainly on muscles to move; rather they use a fluid called hemolymph, which is their blood.

The fluid is sensitive to temperature. So, when the hydraulic fluid flows into their tubelike legs, it makes them flex and extend. Study’s senior author, Anna Ahn, an associate professor of biology at Harvey Mudd College in California, said that temperature can change the thickness, or viscosity, of hemolymph.

Ahn said that at lower temperatures, they moved more slowly as the hemolymph was more viscous than at higher temperatures. Ahn concluded that these may help engineers who study hydraulic robots.

She added, "Hydraulic extension has its limitations. And the limitations happen at the faster speeds, rather than the higher fluid viscosities”.

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