Flying? Falling? Gliding with control! The arboreal Selenops spider can steer itself with a fair amount of accuracy as it “flies” through the air, as demonstrated in the drop tests above. The large, flat spiders (nicknamed “flatties”) aren’t ballooning with silk threads. Instead, they appear to direct their fall using the positioning of their extended front legs, allowing them to glide from tree to tree in the forest canopies of Panama and Peru. From National Geographic:

…in the forests of both countries, the scientists dropped the spiders from a height of 65 to 80 feet (20 to 25 meters) above the ground.

The flatties proved themselves more agile than cats, turning themselves right side up in a matter of milliseconds, pointing their heads downward, and gliding for a tree trunk.

The best skydivers could swerve to a landing after falling only 13 feet (4 meters) or so.

And after they land, their brownish bodies camouflage on the tree trunks. Read the original research: Arachnid aloft – directed aerial descent in neotropical canopy spiders.

Watch more amazing spider videos, more videos about flying, more Panama, more Peru, and by the way, Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?

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