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Archive for August 15, 2011

Spider Silk & Spinnerets

All spiders spin silk — some use it to build webs, eggs sacs, draglines, wrap prey and/or disperse in the air. Inside their bodies are glands which produce different types of silk material for different purposes.  Liquified silk proteins are pushed out spinnerets, or silk-spinning organs, located at the tip of a spider’s abdomen (most spiders have six). Once the silk solution comes in contact with the air, it solidifies.  Each spinneret has a spigot, or nozzle, which controls the consistency of the silk by forming smaller or larger strands. By winding different silk varieties together in varying proportions, spiders can form a wide range of fiber material.   Spider silk is extremely strong and flexible. Some varieties are five times as strong as an equal mass of steel and twice as strong as an equal mass of Kevlar.