It 'Rained' Spiders in Brazil Last Week—and You Can Watch It If You Dare

iStock.com/aury1979
iStock.com/aury1979

If recent events are anything to go by, you should be less concerned about swallowing spiders in your sleep and more concerned about bird-eating spiders raining down on your head. As The Guardian reports, recent footage from the Brazilian countryside shows thousands of spiders seemingly suspended in mid-air. (Arachnophobes might want to give the video below a miss.)

In reality, they aren’t falling at all. The spiders, which likely belong to a South American species called Parawixia bistriata, are merely crawling on an ultra-fine and nearly invisible web that attaches to two objects, like trees or bushes, to form a canopy.

So why do they do it? To catch prey, naturally. They’re likely to snag a variety of insects and maybe even small birds in their communal web, which can stretch up to 13 feet wide. (And yes, they eat the birds, too.)

Brazilian biology professor Adalberto dos Santos tells The Guardian that P. bistriata are some of the rare “social” spiders that do this. They leave their webs up overnight, hide out in the nearby vegetation, and then return at dawn to feast.

While this natural phenomenon is certainly unsettling, it isn’t exactly rare. Residents of the southeast municipality of Espírito Santo do Dourado, where the video was shot, said these “spider rains” are common when the weather is hot and humid.

Here’s another video from Santo Antônio da Platina in southern Brazil in 2013.

Other species of spider have been known to jump into the wind and "surf" on strands of silk as a means of getting around. They do this to escape threats or get to food or mates in other locations, and cases of "spider flight" have been recorded all over the world. Some especially adventurous spiders have even been known to cross oceans by “ballooning” their way from one land mass to the next.

[h/t The Guardian]

35 Lesser-Known Inventions of Famous Inventors

Mental Floss via YouTube
Mental Floss via YouTube

You know Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. But did you also know that the Edinburgh-born innovator is the person we have to thank for the metal detector? He devised the contraption not as a way to look for loose change and other left-behind items on the beach, but in an attempt to help save the life of President James Garfield. (Spoiler alert: Garfield died anyway.)

In this week's all-new edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is sharing the details of 35 key—but lesser-known—inventions devised by some of the world's greatest inventors.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

Watch Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 Coronation

On May 12, 1937, Princess Elizabeth—then just 11 years old—looked on as her father, King George VI, was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Little did she know that just 16 years later, she would be in the exact same place and at the center of the very same ceremony.

June 2 marks the anniversary of the Queen’s official coronation—an event that made royal history in a number of ways, most notably because it was the first to be televised around the world (in the UK alone, more than 27 million people tuned in). Thanks to the power of the internet, watching Netflix’s The Crown isn’t the closest you can get to witnessing the event.

While the coronation marked Elizabeth’s formal investiture as Queen, the former princess had officially ascended to the throne more than a year earlier, upon the death of her father on February 6, 1952. The official ceremony itself was delayed not only because of the time it takes to arrange such a detailed event, but because holding the ceremony during a period of mourning for the family would have been deemed inappropriate. Though Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, passed away less than three months before Elizabeth’s coronation, she stipulated in her will that the ceremony move forward as planned.

You can watch the coronation play out in several parts in the videos below:

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