Sea spiders are rich in waters across the world, and most are thus little that you simply might hold one on the tip of your finger. But within the whirling waters around our planet’s icy poles, these spiders are giants.
Meet the sea spider — the alien-looking creature that mates with its legs in the depths of the ocean.
Antarctic sea spiders got so big because some 30 million years ago, the Antarctic Ocean got cooler. This trait, called polar gigantism, is thought to be essential to why they and many other cold-dwelling invertebrates of unusual size managed to survive.
Researchers questioned what allowed animals like these to succeed in such mammoth sizes. They also Want to know what will happen as the waters they inhabit continue to get warmer, because it’s thought that extremely cold water marine animals can only tolerate a tiny range in temperature, making them particularly vulnerable to global warming.
In a study revealed in Proceedings of the academy B,a team of scientists challenged giant sea spiders collected in Antarctic waters to exercise to exhaustion in a kind of aquatic Cross Fit class. Observing how many times they could make the spiders flip over before giving up in water with increasing temperatures and decreasing oxygen, they discovered that the key was in their swiss-cheese-like skin. As the spiders grow larger, their skin gets holier, allowing them to fuel their larger bodies by absorbing the abundant oxygen packed into cold waters.
It seems this helps them get throughout hot exercise sessions, too, suggesting they’ll realize the way to survive as their habitats heat up.
Hear what University of Montana says