Fascinating Facts – Part 6: The Spider With Golden Silk

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Golden orb-weaver spiders live in Southern and East Africa, and are among the largest spiders in the world with a massive leg span of around twenty centimetres. The reason for its name is that God has given it the ability to make a beautiful, golden-coloured silk that it spins to make its webs. Interestingly, one of the chemicals in the silk that makes it golden is a carotenoid, the same chemical found in carrots. How the spider spins its intricate web is another story, but when it is formed, the web itself is incredibly strong. Golden orb-weaver webs can stop a bee mid-flight at twenty miles per hour and can also trap small birds. Tanzanian fishermen even use the webs for fishing!

The golden orb-weaver spider would be shocked to know that her silk has been used for two very different projects. The first was by Peers and Godley, who collected the golden silk from over a million spiders and wove it into a piece of clothing - a golden cape. To get all the silk that they needed, a team of up to eighty people collected spiders every day, then ‘milked’ them for their silk for around half an hour before returning them, unharmed, to the wild. It took several years to complete this cape, which was said to be the world’s rarest piece of cloth. It was first put on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and then at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The second, and totally unrelated use of golden orb-weaver silk, is to help regrow damaged nerves, such as in patients who have suffered a serious accident. A group of scientists in Vienna has teamed up with the University of Oxford to make ‘nerve guides’. These are special tubes, with the sides made from the silk produced by silkworms, and the inside filled with dragline silk from our golden orb-weaver spiders. The ends of damaged nerves can grow through the silk tubes until they rejoin. Every centimetre of nerve guide tube needs ten metres of silk to make it. God has given this awesome material as a gift to the golden orb-weaver spider and has given us humans the ability to investigate and use it for our pleasure and benefit. It really is a mark of His wonderful, creative power


How was it made? Golden spider silk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv1qq6ypiTk Accessed 02/02/2024

https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/silk-spiders-silkworms-treatment-nerve-injuries/157367/ Accessed 02/02/2024