The Moroccan flic-flac spider would put a gymnast to shame.
A newly-discovered species of spider discovered in Morocco just last year prefers cartwheeling to more standard ways of locomotion; especially when it needs to flee.
Now, forget your mostly irrational fear of spiders for a moment, and take a look at this
This species was classified by German professor Ingo Rechenberg, and the critter’s scientific name, Cebrennus rechenbergi, is derived from his own name. It is nocturnal and belongs to a family of spiders known as ‘huntsmen’, due to their hunting techniques.
It’s already been given a ‘common name’ – the Moroccan flic-flac spider! Its characteristic ‘flic-flac’ movement is really only done when provoked and it needs to escape danger quickly. This movement, which would put a gymnast to shame, allows the spider to move twice as fast (at 2 meters/second) as it could by merely walking. It also means the spider is especially flexible and nimble, perfect for use during hunting.
Three other species of the same family also described in the paper that details this find are: C. atlas, which is also from Morocco, C. flagellatus from Afghanistan, and C. laurae from the Canary Islands.
It turns out that Rechenberg is also tech-savvy, and has been inspired by the flic-flac spider to build a new breed of energy-saving, yet superior in mobility, robots – that may one day see action on Mars and beyond (once he perfects the design) – that move in roughly the same way:
No word yet on NASA’s or ESA’s interest in this project of his, though.
Jäger P (2014). Cebrennus Simon, 1880 (Araneae: Sparassidae): a revisionary up-date with the description of four new species and an updated identification key for all species. Zootaxa, 3790, 319-56 PMID: 24869871