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3 Ways Spider Silk Could Save Your Life

3 Ways Spider Silk Could Save Your Life

When I was about five years old, I had a pet spider. Well, really what I had was a tiny house spider trapped under a pen cap on my bookshelf. I was livid when my mom moved the cap while dusting, allowing my “pet” to crawl to freedom.

Decades later, I understand that no spider will ever be happy in captivity. Creepy though these eight-legged organisms may be, they play an essential role in the ecosystem. Although I may never be thrilled to see one crawling up my arm (shudder) I’m glad spiders exist: they help control pests, produce venom that’s being studied as a potential medicine and pesticide, and hide an amazing materials laboratory inside their bodies.

It’s this last characteristic that recently thrust spiders into the scientific spotlight. As you may know, spiders are capable of emitting silken threads from their abdomen. For the spider, this silk is simply used for web building, but it could also help us humans develop life-changing materials for the future.

Hailed as the super material of the future, spider silk is more than five times stronger than steel, ten times stronger than Kevlar, more elastic than a rubber band and yet can be found in some of our own backyards. In the future, this amazing fiber could be used to make bulletproof clothing, protective airbags, and artificial skin for burn victims.

Scroll through the infographic below to learn more!

ā€¯Sierra

Infographic by Sierra Cases

Read more: Crafts & Design, Environment, Materials & Architecture, Nature, , , , , , ,

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

101 comments

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4:54AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

thanks for sharing

9:37AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Hmmm?
Genetically modified goats,alfalfa and messing with the silk worms as well.
I am not so enthusiastic about that.

10:31AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

The spiders in my house make strange webs.

6:13PM PST on Dec 15, 2013

thanks

9:48AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

I'm not a great fan of spiders, I'd never kill one though, but if you take time to look at their webs you can appreciate what a marvelous piece of engineering they are.

9:48AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

ty

4:20AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Can the human do something beneficial to animals as well?

3:44AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Interesting post. Thanks.

3:35PM PST on Dec 11, 2013

Good info

11:21AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

Very cool, great article, thanks.

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