Scientists have found the toughest material made by life yet — the silk of a spider whose giant webs span rivers, streams and even lakes.
Spider silks were already the toughest known biomaterials, able to absorb massive amounts of energy before breaking. However, researchers have now revealed the Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini) has the toughest silk ever seen — more than twice as tough as any previously described silk, and more than 10 times stronger than Kevlar.
Evolutionary biologist Ingi Agnarsson, director of the museum of zoology at the University of Puerto Rico, and his colleagues discovered the spider in Madagascar's Ranomafana National Park in 2001. "Our initial reaction was simply 'Wow!'" he said.
The spider's wheel-shaped orb webs could range up to 30 square feet (2.8 square meters) in size, some of the largest in nature, and dangle over streams, rivers and small lakes up to 82 feet (25 meters) across.Read More