Meet the strange maternal spider who suckles her babies like a mammal

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 1, 2018

The researchers also observed that despite growing independent in few days span, the young ones still depend on their mother's milk.

The find is unusual considering lactation is typically only seen among mammals. 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.

This species of jumping spider, which looks more like an ant, creates breeding nests composed of several individuals, the researchers say.

A team at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences observed the odd behaviour of the spider Toxeus magnus during a recent field study.

"It's a puzzling observation for a species assumed to be noncolonial", Dr. Chen said.

Researchers first observed the toxeus magnus spider species in Singapore, with an adult female always surrounded by smaller spiders. We chose to test it'. Once the one-week mark passed, spiderlings drank fluid directly from the mother's body, crowding around in a manner eerily similar to suckling puppies. Each jumping spider mom lactates a milk-like substance, then their spiderlings ingest the droplets secreted from their mother's abdomen area until they reach the subadult age.

According to the researcher, this behaviour made it more likely for the young spiders to survive until adulthood.

The cubs are regularly asked for milk up to 38 days. Spiders may not categorically fall under mammals but a species of Toxeus magnus spider mothers feeding and nursing their newly borns. According to Chen et al., spiderlings remained in the nest and nursed on spider milk for almost 40 days, shortly before reaching sexual maturity.

Jumping spiders care for their babies with an interesting process. Furthermore, the authors found that while nursing was not critical to offspring's survival after becoming independent, their mother's presence during their young lives greatly assured their overall health and adult survival.

The arachnids use their excellent vision to track, stalk and calculate distance, before suddenly leaping on their prey, propelled by their strong back legs.

In addition, all the little spiders until sexual maturity were equal.

The researchers suspect this discourages inbreeding.

'These findings demonstrate that mammal-like milk provisioning and parental care for sexually mature offspring have also evolved in invertebrates, encouraging a reevaluation of their occurrence across the animal kingdom, especially in invertebrates'.

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