Spiders are known for weaving webs, big and small. But did you know that they can be stronger than steel?
Not all spider silks are equal, and this is mostly influenced by the chemical composition of the silk. One of the most widespread spired families, the orb-weavers, lives across the world and includes over 3,500 species. Each individual orb-weaver can generate eight or nine types of silks, depending on what they need them for. For example, the softest silk is used for protecting the eggs while the other varieties are much firmer.
As recently discovered, each strand of spider silk is made up of thousands of parallel nanostrands of nanofibrils. “Each of these thin nanostrands is made up of protein and measures less than a millionth of an inch in diameter – hundreds of thousands of times thinner than the width of a human hair, say the scientists from the College of William and Mary in Virginia,” writes the website Silence Alert.
So, the next time you see a spider’s web, know that you’re witnessing one of the most amazing wonders of life.