The image of a spider sitting in a web just waiting for its prey — usually an insect — to become trapped doesn't apply to all arachnids. In fact, scientists recently found more spiders than previously thought exhibit semi-aquatic lifestyles.
That's right: There are spiders out there with the ability to swim, dive, walk on water and eat fish up to five times their size. According to research from Martin Nyffeler with the University of Basel in Switzerland and Bradley Pusey from the University of Western Australia, the only continent that doesn't house some of these creatures is Antarctica.
The research published in the journal PLOS One describes the global distribution of these spiders, which use neurotoxins and enzymes to digest their aquatic prey. In North America, these spiders can be found in warmer climates, like the Florida wetlands.
Six-spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton) (Image source: Larry Meade/Flickr)
"More than 80 incidences of fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders [was] observed at the fringes of shallow freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps and fens" the study said, also noting some fish predation by spiders in captivity has been observed as well.
Watch this footage of spiders hunting fish:
"Our finding of such a large diversity of spider families being engaged in fish predation is novel," the authors wrote.
Nyffeler told New Scientist it is unlikely that fish are the main food source for these spiders but are probably "big-ticket item."
In addition to fish, other unique food sources for spiders that have been observed previously include bats, small birds and even some reptiles.