A breath of fresh air

A breath of fresh air
Date:1 August 2011 Tags:

Researchers have provided new insights into how a species of air-breathing spider can spend its whole life under water, only venturing to the surface occasionally to replenish its air supply.

The "diving bell spider" (Argyroneta aquatica) is the only spider that lives entirely under water. It breathes air, which it traps in a dome-shaped web suspended between aquatic plants. It's this bubble that gives the spider its name – and we now know how it works. The scientists found that the "diving bell" behaves like a gill, extracting oxygen from the water. The spider needs to dash to the surface only once a day to supplement its air supply, and it can stay under water for more than 24 hours. Says Professor Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide: "Being able to stay still for so long, without having to go to the surface to renew the air bubble, protects the spiders from predators and also keeps them hidden from potential prey that come near."

  • Source: University of Adelaide