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I've been thinking about this lately. Would it be possible for a type of spider to gain the ability to fly freely by weaving its web between it's legs and creating wings much like those of a bat?

Is there anything like that in nature currently? Is it plausible at all?

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It might glide, but not fly, for the same reason that you can't even if we give you wings, the size is all wrong and you don't have the necessary muscles. –  terdon Jul 18 '13 at 17:42
    
Over time, could the spider evolve the "muscles" and movement in order to sustain flight with these web-wings? –  lonewookie Jul 18 '13 at 17:44
    
Perhaps but it would no longer be a spider. Your question asks whether a spider could fly without changing its morphology, just by spinning webs between its legs. If you allow it to change form then sure it could, just make it morph into an eagle. –  terdon Jul 18 '13 at 17:46
    
I gotcha. In the short term the most a spider could do with this is possibly glide. In the long-term it could gain flight but would be very different than any spider you see today. –  lonewookie Jul 18 '13 at 17:50
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They might not fly, but some spiders can "balloon". –  Jim Green Jul 18 '13 at 20:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It takes more than wings to fly, just look at the poor penguins. The first problem is that simply weaving webs between a spider's legs would probably not generate enough lift to keep her airborne. Flying creatures have a specific body plan that allows them to fly, if you just add a couple of wings to a hippopotamus it won't be able to fly.

On top of that, the spider would not have the necessary muscles to enable it to flap these wings even if they were capable of producing sufficient lift.

While it is theoretically possible (I stress theoretically) for a spider species to adapt over time (long long time) into a flying form, then it would no longer be a spider. So, in answer to your question, no, it is not possible.

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Great answer. I guess with all the changes it would need to undergo, it would be too different from any current spiders. But it's really interesting to think about! –  lonewookie Jul 18 '13 at 18:03

Very unlikely as spiders don't have direct muscle/exoskeleton connections like insects, it would be a more complicated mechanism for powered flight...

imagine replacing a radial engine in an airplane with and engine that powers a hydraulic pump that then has a mechanism that converts that force to a force usable for flight.

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Why have you posted two contradictory answers? –  terdon Jul 19 '13 at 12:01
    
@terdon I had not one, but two theses; and they didn't agree very well, I wrote it as one answer, but it was self defeating. –  Grady Player Jul 19 '13 at 14:17

probably permitted by the laws of physics and biology...

almost anything is possible, jumping spiders move extremely quickly for their scale, and you could easily imagine an evolutionary pathway... spiders already use parachutes: the parachute gets bigger, the line get shorter and controlled by the rear most legs...

maybe it has already happened, there likely wouldn't be any fossil record of it, and spiders have been around for a long time (compared to apes).

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