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This spider has a secret superpower that is baffling scientists

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David Cornish
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Spider's are incredible. 

Eight legs, even more eyes, the capacity to pull a super-strong material out of their ass to create vast structures capable of entrapping their prey. If it weren't for the fact they look like they've crawled out of the ninth circle of hell, we'd be best buddies with them.

But one particular type of spider native to South America and New Zealand, the mecysmaucheniid, has just pushed its freakish head in front of the wider spider population to claim "coolest arachnid in the world", after a team of scientists were left baffled by an apparent 'super power'.

Upon examining the tiny spider under magnified video, the scientists discovered that the arachnid had 'trap-jaws' - a pincer mouth mechanism that moved faster than any muscle mechanism could possibly move it. Here it is in slow-motion action.

While that might not look all too impressive, the snap of those jaws isn't actually visible to the naked eye. The above video was filmed at 3,000 frames per second and slowed down to make the snap visible. In real life, all of that happens around 150 times faster. 

Scientists are now looking to work out exactly what mechanism the spider has developed to allow it to shut it's jaws so quickly. "Studying these spiders could allow humans to design robots that move in novel ways that are based on how these spiders move," says Hannah Wood of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

Oh great. If there's one thing we're more scared of than spiders, it's robots with super fast jaws...

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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