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'Slingshot Spider' Launches Itself At Prey With Impressive Web (VIDEO)

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You know the fear that accompanies unexpectedly walking into a spider web? How much more frightening would it be if the web were actually getting launched at you instead?

Well, that's the tactic employed by a group of spiders of the Theridiosomatidae family.

The arachnids were recently documented weaving webs in the Peruvian Amazon and using their creations as "slingshots." The spiders sit in the middle of the webs as they launch themselves -- and their webs -- forward.

Should a spider miss its target, it can retract an anchor line spun from the middle of the web to a solid surface nearby. The line draws the entire "slingshot" apparatus taught, preparing it to be launched at prey once more.

slingshot spider

Jeff Cremer, one of the brains behind Peru Nature, a rainforest expedition company, recorded the astounding phenomenon and uploaded the video to YouTube earlier this month.

Despite having been filmed at 60 frames per second, the spider in the clip above launches its web fast enough to be almost imperceptible. In an email to The Huffington Post, Cremer acknowledged the shot was no easy feat.

"We were in the middle of the Amazon jungle, in the middle of the night and standing in about 50 cm. of water with mosquitos flying," he wrote, adding they used only a flashlight to illuminate the spider.

slingshot spider

Although this unique behavior has been documented as far back as 1932, Wired reports the spiders have "remained basically unknown" to all but a small cadre of experts.

Fortunately, the spiders are less than 1 cm in size and pose no threat to humans. Mosquitos and flies, however, better watch out.

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