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Tumbling spider turned into robot

Moroccan desert, home to the Cebrennus rechenbergi spider
Moroccan desert, home to the Cebrennus rechenbergi spider
Wikimedia Commons

A kinky new species of spider has already inspired a robot version of itself thanks to its intriguing way of walking and turning somersaults at the same time.

According its discoverer, German scientist Ingo Rechenberg, who said he caught it in his hands during a trip to Morocco in 2009, the “flic flac” (officially Cebrennus rechenbergi) “propels itself off the ground and moves its legs in a flic-flac motion enabling it to travel up and down sand dunes as well as on level ground at a rate of 6.5-feet per second. In fact, the flic-flac moves propel the spider across the sand at some 6.5 feet per second (twice as fast as its walking speed),” as does its robot counterpart known as “Tabbot” (a take-off on the Berber word for spider, "Tabacha.").

"I caught the spider by hand, and I took it to my car, and in the morning, I tried to take a good photograph of the spider," Rechenberg stated, adding that he ended up taking the quirky spider back to Germany with him, where arachnologist Peter Jäger of the Seneckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt declared it a new species.

The flic flac, which is native to the Erg Chebbi desert in southeastern Morocco near the Algerian border) only comes out at night, preferring to hide from the broiling sun in “tube-like towers in the sand woven together by silk threads.”