We've all come across a spider that's died of natural causes - it's usually curled its legs in, and is just... dead.

Hear Dwyer & Michaels Talk On This Creepy Experiment:

Well, some scientists came across a dead spider in their lab and wondered why a spider's body curls up. They found that spiders curl their bodies using hydraulic pressure. The pressure comes from a central cavity, which means when they die, their legs will permanently retract.

Rice University assistant professor Daniel Preston and graduate student Faye Yap then decided to take the dead spider they'd found, and used a syringe to inject air into the dead spider's legs to force them back open.

Rice University
Rice University
attachment-Dead spider claw

“Spiders actually only have flexing muscles,” Yap said in a video call, meaning that spiders can pull their legs in, but have no muscles to extend them. “The way they extend their legs is using hydraulic pressure.”

So, they glue the syringe to the dead spider, and use the air pressure to pick up diodes and other small objects. They found the reanimated corpses last to up to 1,000 open/close cycles and they can lift up to 130% of their own body weight.

Check out this nasty ass weird science video they shot to show how they play with dead spider bodies:

“We look at anything at the intersection of energy, materials and fluids,” Preston told Gizmodo. “Soft robotics typically applies nontraditional materials, things that are not the typical hard plastics metals but instead things like hydrogels and elastomers and unique actuation modes like magnetism and light.”

Preston and Yap are excited for the next steps in this endeavor, which they hope will lead to the opening of each individual leg.

Read more at Gizmodo

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