A cartwheeling spider

A new species of spider has been discovered in Morocco, and it’s quite the gymnast. Cebrennus rechenbergi, which lives in the sand desert Erg Chebbi, is the first species of spider documented to project itself across the sand through cartwheel-like motions. The discovery has been published in the journal Zootaxa.

A similar tumbleweed style spider has been previously described, the golden rolling spider, but this spider is restricted in its agility since it is only able to roll down hills. The arachnid acrobat C. rechenbergi in contrast can propel itself off the ground and initiate “flic-flac” jumps that allow it to travel both along flat ground and uphill. Impressively, this bizarre skill allows the spider to move twice as fast as if it were walking, around two meters per second, and uses it as a getaway card when potential predators approach.

The video is in German, but you can see the spider’s unusual method of locomotion, as well as a robot model inspired by the arachnid.