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Title: Slingshot spiders build tensed, underdamped webs for ultrafast launches and speedy halts
We develop a mathematical model to capture the web dynamics of slingshot spiders (Araneae: Theridiosomatidae), which utilize a tension line to deform their orb webs into conical springs to hunt flying insects. Slingshot spiders are characterized by their ultrafast launch speeds and accelerations (exceeding 1300 m/s2, however a theoretical approach to characterize the underlying spatiotemporal web dynamics remains missing. To address this knowledge gap, we develop a 2D-coupled damped oscillator model of the web. Our model reveals three key insights into the dynamics of slingshot motion. First, the tension line plays a dual role: enabling the spider to load elastic energy into the web for a quick launch (in milliseconds) to displacements of 10–15 body lengths, but also enabling the spider to halt quickly, attenuating inertial oscillations. Second, the dominant energy dissipation mechanism is viscous drag by the silk lines - acting as a low Reynolds number parachute. Third, the web exhibits underdamped oscillatory dynamics through a finely-tuned balance between the radial line forces, the tension line force and viscous drag dissipation. Together, our work suggests that the conical geometry and tension-line enables the slingshot web to act as both an elastic spring and a shock absorber, for the multi-functional roles of risky predation and self-preservation.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1941933 1806833 1656645
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Comparative Physiology A
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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