The incredible Darwin’s bark spider

This is hands down one of the finest Attenborough segments I’ve seen. The four-minute video from BBC Earth has incredible photography of Darwin’s bark spider (Caerostris darwini) building its web over a river on a 25-meter-long “bridging line”. Rivers are of course good places to catch insects, as they’re clear conduits through the forest. Here’s some useful information from Wikipedia:

The spider was discovered in Madagascar in the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in 2009. Its silk is the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times tougher than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar. The species was named in honour of the naturalist Charles Darwin, with the description being prepared precisely 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species, on 24 November 2009.

If you are not moved by this video—which I’d call a spiritual experience in contemplating natural selection if I didn’t dislike the word “spiritual—then you’re made of stone. All those instructions coded in a tiny spider brain (though be aware that some web-spinning spiders have brains that spill out into their bodies).

h/t: Anne-Marie


  1. Rod
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    And that is why we follow your posts.
    Incredible stories that we’d never find on our own.
    Thank you PCC, many times over.

  2. rickflick
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing hunter! And all developed over millions of years of natural selection. Long ago, her ancestors may have been satisfied with a much smaller version of this structure. Perhaps one that spanned a small stream. But then, she had a grand vision…

  3. Paul S
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    That was amazing. A few hours to spin the web? How often can they do this? It seems a lot of silk.

    • Tom
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it does seem a bit of an overkill.
      All the same the reward must be worth the efort.

      • Tom
        Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink


    • Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      And she probably builds a new one every day. But she can eat and recycle much of it.
      I suppose it comes down to cost/benefit. The size and placement of the web probably means that she will bring in a good catch.

  4. Darren Garrison
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Makes me think of an orb weaver web I saw at home a year or so back–one end was anchored to a plaint around 5 feet up, the other end anchored to a “guy line” in a tree 20 or so feet away and maybe 15 feet up in the tree. And the bottom of the web was attached to an old oak leaf that had been reeled up into the air (like those spiders using hanging pebbles in their webs that PCC posted here a while back.) I tried getting photos of the impressive construction work of the web, but it wasn’t something that photographs well.

    Sadly, a few hours later when I passed the web again, the web was still there but there were only a few small bits of spider left in it–something had found a snack.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I tried getting photos of the impressive construction work of the web, but it wasn’t something that photographs well.

      Something like a “sprayer” for doing the plants at home. If you were out on a walk, perhaps the “puffer brush” from your camera bag would produce enough mist. (My puffer can separate the puffer from the brush.)
      Anyone else got ideas for improvising a sprayer?

    • Posted June 30, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      This spider also beats, but reminds me of a large garden spider that I saw had similarly built an orb web with vertical supporting strands that went easily 20 feet into a tree canopy.

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink


  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink


  7. Posted June 30, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Also very impressive here is the cinematraphy and editing and music and narration that spun this amazing story.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      Yes, you beat me to it.

  8. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink


    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      I forgot to update – that characterization was taken. Oh well, back to my initial reaction then:

      You could never invent a spider!

      • Posted June 30, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        Or a frog! I love to think about organisms whose evolution could never have been predicted.

  9. Posted June 30, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. Charles Sawicki
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink


  11. Hempenstein
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The existence of a spider – sitting and waiting for a meal that may never come.

    But nature videos like this one make me wonder how long the photog had to wait to find these shots, what his setup was like, etc. They must at times feel a relationship to spiders, no matter what they’re photodocumenting.

  12. friendlypig
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Web by John Wyndham is a great read. It shows the real power of the spider:

  13. Mark R.
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Now that’s something!

  14. Posted July 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    When I lived in Texas, I saw spider webs also about 2 meters across, hanging from one tree to another. One showed up in my yard. The spider, sitting in the center, was quite large, about the size of a very small mouse, 3 cm long by guess and memory. Over several breezy days, the web sunk lower and lower, until the spider and I were eye to eye. I enjoyed going into the yard, standing there, and greeting her as though she could understand human speech. Soon after, she disappeared and the web fell into ruin. I actually missed her. I still don’t know what species of spider she was, but I would be interested, if anyone else does. Her physique was rather hefty, and I vaguely recall her being brown in color.

  15. Mike
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Incredible little beast.I once spent 4hrs on Guard Duty, watching a Spider construct a Web,beautiful work.

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