The Black Widow Spider and Biomimetics

Good science can be had by studying the work of the Master Engineer in nature, then finding ways to implement them for our own lives. The field of biomimetics is rapidly growing, with new applications being considered frequently. Some of these come from sources that may seem startling, such as the black widow spider.

The black widow spider refutes evolution, and its web inspires several possible applications for us.
Credit: Pixabay / jgiammatteo
This infamous arachnid causes folks to yell, "Katie, bar the door!", which can be counterproductive if the thing's inside with you. But although their venom is somewhat dangerous (less so for healthy adults), antivenom exists. Just don't be fussing with it, you savvy? You might consider calling an exterminator if they're in your home. Or maybe one of the researchers.

Spiders have always been spiders, and they show no signs of having evolved from something way back when. Researchers want to know about their webbing, since it is proportionately very strong and they have some interesting ideas to implement. Like the spider has always been a spider, scientists were surprised at the specified complexity of the arachnid's web apparatus.
Although invertebrate zoologists have known the structure of spider-web fibers and the main sequence of  amino acids that make up some spider-silk proteins, current research has further uncovered how black widow spiders (Latrodectus) produce their steel-strength silk webs. It’s not a simple process by any means 
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The key is in a supramolecular assembly of very tiny units called micelles. The researchers discovered that, even starting out, these micelles were both complex and compound, which was not predicted. They initially thought the black widow spider’s remarkable fibers originated from a random solution. Instead they found “hierarchical nano-assemblies (200 to 500 nanometers in diameter) of proteins stored in the spider’s abdomen.”
To read the entire short article, click on "Amazing Design of Black Widow Web Silk".