As a new study revealed, the jumping spider mothers feed their spiderlings with spider milk, and that’s no joke. It might sound wrong since we’ve always linked milk with mammals, but new research on Toxeus Magnus spiders revealed many surprising facts about this arachnid.
The researchers noticed that jumping spiders bred in nests where parents live with several juveniles. What struck them at first was the fact that spiderlings only go out after about a month, period during which mothers also never left the crib. The scientists observed that the jumping spider mothers were secreting a substance out of their upper abdomen which the spiderlings ate.
“It sets up interesting questions about why this happens in the first place. Why are these spiders acting like college kids returning home to live with their parents?” said Nathan Morehouse from the University of Cincinnati for Gizmodo.
Jumping Spider Mothers Feed Their Spiderlings With Spider Milk
To estimate the significance of the so-called spider milk, the scientists trapped a jumping spider mother and blocked its glands. As a result, the spiderlings died within ten days. According to the researchers, the spider milk is containing vital substances that assure the jumping spider “babies” with the necessary nutrients to live for about one month until they can exit the nest and feed on themselves.
“Production of a milk-like system may have evolved more times in invertebrate systems than in vertebrates,” also said Joshua Benoit, also from the University of Cincinnati.
According to the researchers, jumping spider mothers, that feed their spiderlings with spider milk, are not unique among non-mammal animals. Scientists also observed that pigeons, cockroaches, tsetse flies, and earwigs are also producing milk-like secretions to feed their offsprings. “The take-home message for me is that this study punctures the specialness of mammals,” concluded Benoit.