Man-Made Innovations We Owe to Spiders

Spiders are hardly anyone’s favorite critters. They’re the creepy roommates we never ask for, but always seem to get. There’s just something about their long, skinny legs and the annoying webs they leave hanging around everywhere. Despite our perception of spiders, scientists have been studying them for quite some time and have found some impressively innovative creations. So let’s give it up for spiders, one of Earth’s most original inventors and trendsetters!

1. Tarantula Venom Could Replace Opioids

One of the things that scares us the most about spiders is their venom; some only cause mild irritation but there are those that can take down a human in only a matter of seconds. But it’s not all bad like we’ve been led to believe. At the University of Queensland, it was discovered that the Chinese Bird Spider’s venom contained a special group of molecules which, when used in the right amounts, can be used to block the pain receptor cells. Hopefully this will become more widespread in the future.

2. Spider Silk Body Armor

Kevlar, a light and crazy strong polymer that is used in just about everything may soon become a thing of the past. It just doesn’t compare to some of the newer materials that have been developed in recent times. One of them is the “Dragon Silk,” which is made from the silk of the Golden Orb Weaver spiders. Using only four layers, Dragon Silk is able to stop a caliber bullet just as well as Kevlar. Even the U.S. army has thrown their money into the study of spider silk as body armor!

3. UV-Reflective Glass

Every year, up to one billion birds die from colliding into windows as they often perceive them as part of the sky. But, thanks to their arachnid friends and their special ultraviolet-reflective webs, the birds’ problems will soon be no more. It turns out that birds can see UV light and this huge discovery inspired a German glass company to develop the Ornilux B one bird protection glass, which is infused with spider silk. Since the invention, there has been 75 to 90 percent fewer bird strikes on buildings that use the special glass. It’s great that someone is thinking about the birds!

4. Surgical Tape That Adheres to Wet Surfaces

Band-Aids do a great job of covering our wounds, but they don’t interact very well with water. Once soaked, they start slipping off and before you know it you have to get another one. Even scientists know how annoying this can be. Which is why they’re in the process of perfecting a surgical tape that can adhere to and even seal wounds in only a matter of seconds. This was inspired by spider webs’ ability to absorb water, resulting in a stickier insect trap. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes mainstream. 

5. Sustainable Web-Inspired Fashion

So not only do spider webs help to save lives, but they’re also improving our everyday clothing. A company called Bolt Threads is well-known for their MicroSilk, a textile which is the result of yeast bioengineered with a spider silk protein gene so that when the yeast ferments, it produces a silk protein that is then purified and spun into clothing material. It’s already making the rounds in the markets; Adidas is using a hybrid of this material to make a lightweight tennis dress. There’s also another company called AMSilk who has created a similar material called BioSteel, which Adidas has also used in some of their sneakers.

 

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