Of the 40,000 known spider species in the world, only one can do cartwheels. This species, newly discovered in Morocco and nicknamed “the cart wheeling spider,” is the Cebrennus rechenbergi.
Found in the desert of Erg Chebbi, this wild-legged spider can preform many impressive feats. In the journal Zootaxa, it was described as projecting itself across flat land and uphill, using a “flic-flac” rolling and jumping style. In addition to gymnastics, the cartwheeling spider can spin silk thread to build tubes. These tubes protect it from both the sun and vicious predators. This species can also move two meters per second, a speed twice as fast as if it were walking.
When bionics expert Ingo Rechenberg discovered the cartwheeling spider, he was inspired to make a robot based on its behaviors. The robot is called “Tabbot,” after the Berber word for spider. Tabbot's movements include somersaulting and walking. These may be important skills, as robots could then explore varied environments from the bottoms of seas to Mars.