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Unravelling the secrets of spider limb regeneration to inspire next-gen soft robotics

Spider webs are engineering marvels constructed by eight-legged experts with 400 million years of accumulated know-how. Much can be learned from the building of the spider’s gossamer net and the operation of its sticky trap. Amazingly, garden cross spiders can regenerate lost legs and use them immediately to build a web that is pitch-perfect, even though the new limb is much shorter than the one it replaced. This phenomenon has allowed scientists to probe the rules the animal uses to build its web and how it uses its legs as measuring sticks.

Studies at the Universities of Oxford and Aarhus have revealed how a spider’s regenerated leg movements fit in with the other legs that are of normal length; coordinating complex movements and thread manipulations.

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