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There are millions of different species on the Earth and much more that have gone extinct. Among many of them, there are many that are bizarre and strange because circumstances have allowed these strange traits and characteristics to persist and survive until now. Centipedes, which are arthropods, have a lot of legs because their bodies are segmented into similar pieces because of the process of metamerization. It is thought that they have these legs because of common ancestors with crustaceans and insects, which also have segmented bodies.
“I never kill insects. If I see ants or spiders in the room, I pick them up and take them outside. Karma is everything.” — Holly Valance
The naked mole rat is the first mammal to display hive-like behaviors like ants or bees, called eusociality. This significant divergence from other mammal species has allowed them to be successful borrowers and continue to today. Humans are also a very bizarre species because of our sentience. As far as we know there are many intelligent creatures, but none with the level of conscientiousness and awareness as humans.
Spiders are a combination of bizarre and scary because they have become the center of many folktales and stories that use their many legs or eyes as centerpieces to tell these stories. Their eyes and legs have allowed spiders to spread across the globe and become successful predators that can survive through a lot of trials and tribulations.
What Are Spiders
Spiders are arthropods that belong to the class Arachnida, which is composed of joint-legged invertebrates that include spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, solifuges, and harvestmen. They are all characterized by having eight legs. In some species, the front two legs have taken on sensory functions.
Spiders make up the largest order (Araneae) in the class as there are over 45,000 different species across the globe. They are found in all corners of the Earth except Antarctica because it is too cold for them at the moment. The majority of the world is familiar with them to a certain extent because they are commonly found in most homes and areas that humans inhabit.
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” — Charles Addams
They are an old order as fossil records estimate that true spiders appeared about 380 million years ago. Researchers believe that spiders evolved from extinct species of Trigonotarbids, which had many spider-like characteristics.
Spiders are not Insects
So for those wondering; is a six legged spider an insect or a spider? You need to know that spiders are not insects. They are arachnids that have eight legs.
If you come across a spider that has six legs, then definitely it has lost the other limbs. Otherwise, any other six legged spider-like creature is either an insect or a bug.
Apart from the number of legs, there are many other features that distinguish spiders from insects. For instance, spiders don’t have wings while most insects do.
But, not all insects have wings. This explains why we have many six legged spider-like insects without wings that could easily pass for spiders.
Why They Have So Many Eyes
Spiders have four pairs of eyes that they use for many functions. The central pair of eyes are the primary eyes of the spider. They are used for the detection of light and formation of images, allowing the spiders to see and pick out details in their setting. This is in contrast to some other arthropods, which are capable of detecting light and not forming images.
The other pairs of eyes on the spiders are thought to have come from the compound eyes of their ancestors. These other pairs are used for peripheral detection as well as increasing their ability to see at night.
Recently, researchers examined the eyes of spiders to understand why they had so many eyes. The researchers examined the pair of eyes next to the primary ones, called the anterior lateral eyes (ALE), and found that they were crucial to the detection of danger and anything approaching the spider. They had three groups of spiders: ones with their primary eyes blinded, ones with the ALE blinded, and one with no eyes blinded.
Do All Spiders Have 8 Legs, or is there a Six Legged Spider?
As mentioned earlier, spiders are arachnids and all arachnids have eight legs. This means that they are structurally different from insects, which have six legs. That is why spiders move or walk differently from insects.
Usually, a spider will have two pairs of legs on the cephalothorax and two others on the abdomen. But this may differ from species to species.
So is a six legged spider real? The simple answer is no. All spiders come with eight legs. However, that is not say to say that there are no spiders with six legs. It is common to come across spiders that are missing a leg or two, or even more. But that is not how the spider was originally.
Common Misconceptions about spiders and their kin
- not all spiders are harmful to humans
- the Brown Recluse is not the only spider that has been identified to cause necrosis
An Exception: Ant Mimicking Spiders
It is also worth noting that spiders have about six or eight eyes, while insects have only two. Despite that fact, insects have superior vision compared to spiders, which have to rely on their sense of touch especially when hunting.
By now, it should be clear that the idea of a six legged spider is a misconception or a myth. But are there spiders that appear as if they are six legged? Yes, there are.
Ant mimic spiders such as the Myrmarachne are a perfect example. There are over 300 species of spiders that have been known to mimic the appearance of ants for various reasons.
For some, it is a defense mechanism to avoid predation. Ants are aggressive insects and because of that, many predators typically avoid them. On other hand, smaller spiders especially the non-poisonous ones are considered easy prey by many predators.
Six Legged Insects that Look Like Spider
It is good to acknowledge that the claims of six legged spiders are not unfounded. Part of the reason for this is the fact they are many insects that look like spiders. As a result, people mistakenly refer to them as six legged spiders whereas they are not.
Common questions about Spiders and their kin
How can I tell if a spider is female or male?
Most Male spiders have front legs (palps) that are large and round. They usually hold them in front of their bodies.
How many bugs can a spider eat in its lifetime?
How many legs does a spider have?
They have 10 legs! This is no joke; spiders have 8 legs that they walk with, however, they also have a pair that they use sort of like hands. These front pair of legs are referred to pedipalps or just palps for short.
How do spiders make webs?
How do spiders grow?
We know that vertabrates (animals with an internal skeleton), like humans and lizards, grow when their bones grow. Muscles and organs grow with the skeleton. Well, with invertebrates (animals with their skeleton on the outside), this is just the opposite. Inside the spider or insect, the muscles and organs grow, but the skeleton (called exoskeleton) doesn’t grow. When the muscles and organs get too large, the spider molts (basically crawls out of its old skeleton) and forms a new and larger exoskeleton. Below is a good picture
Why are some spiders hairy while others aren’t?
How do spiders breath?
Spidere breath passively through what are called book lungs.
Why do some spiders drum their front legs (palps)?
Do wolf spiders make webs?
Wolf spiders have the ability to produce silk, but they usually only use it to wrap their egg sacs.
Can spiders see?
Some spiders, like jumping spiders and wolf spiders can see relatively well. These types of spiders rely on sight as well as vibrations to detect prey and predators. Other spider, most of which make webs, have very poor vision, and rely mostly on vibrations to detect prey and predators.
How can spiders detect prey?