Engineers Discover That Dead Spiders Are Great at Gripping Things in ‘Necrobotics’ Experiment

The engineering team says it was able to recreate this curling or gripping motion in a dead spider with a syringe and air, and they were surprised how well it worked on their first try.

Researchers at Rice University think they’ve stumbled onto a new “material” for gripping mechanics.

They got the idea when they saw a dead spider in a hallway and noticed it was curled up, which got them thinking about how spider legs actually work.

"So we're referring to these as 'necrobotic' grippers. We're calling it 'necrobotics' because we're using these basically dead objects, the dead spiders in this case, but it can be any kind of biotic materials,” Daniel Preston with Rice University, said.

The engineering team says it was able to recreate this curling or gripping motion in a dead spider with a syringe and air, and they were surprised how well it worked on their first try.

“I don't even know how to describe it. That moment when you see it move, it's a little weird. At first you're like is it dead? Because it moves so lifelike,” Faye Yap, a graduate student at Rice University, said.

They say the possibilities for this technology could be far-reaching.

"So in a human, we have our biceps and our triceps, they work to both flex and then extend the elbow joint. But when you think about spiders, they have flexor muscles that will bring their joints and appendages in towards the body. But they don't have extensors, and instead they do that with hydraulic pressure that they generate inside of the main cavity or chamber of their body,” Preston added.

If you think it’s a little macabre, maybe you shouldn’t. Humans have been utilizing dead animals for a very long time.  

“I guess this concept is not really new because we've already been using like leather from animals to make like clothing and shoes and bags and even wool from sheep. And so this is kind of this even more straightforward way, we kind of just take the animal itself and use it as a ready to use material,” Yarp added.

Engineers are already coming up with ways to put necrobotics into practice. Arachnophobes need not apply.

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