UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — You will be surprised (although if you read our text about cockroach milk, it may not be very), but some spiders produce milk. But what is even more surprising here is that spider milk is much more nutritious than cow milk.
In the context of the struggle of scientists for environmentally friendly consumption options, each year only gaining momentum, this product looks very promising.
Let’s start with the main thing: yes, the offspring of spiders may be more like babies than we all think. Because, for example, some female spiders can produce a nourishing milky liquid that provides the little spiders with all the nutrients they need for growth and development.
However, some species of spiders choose for these purposes what is more traditional (for the spider clan, of course), for example, small insects or pollen. Studies have also shown that a number of spiders generally refuse food until they are large enough to hunt.
But Toxeus magnus, a type of jumping spider whose homeland is Southeast Asia, is different from the rest, according to New Scientist.
Their babies grow very quickly, so that in the first 20 days of their life they reach almost half the adult size. Moreover, neither the spiders themselves nor the females at this time leave the nest to collect food.
“For a while we could not understand how much they continue to grow. But then I saw one small spider clinging to its mom’s belly, ”says Zhanqi Chen of the Chinese Academy of Science. “So we had a very radical assumption that females may be feeding their offspring with something that their own body produces.”
As a result, when Chen and his colleagues placed females under microscopes and slightly pressed their abdomens, they found that a few drops of a creamy white liquid came out of them, very similar to the one that mammals feed their children.
The analysis of the liquid showed that it, firstly, contains fats, and secondly, protein – and, most incredibly, it is four times more than in cow’s milk.
Of course, the secretion of milk is a process characteristic of mammals only. But scientists say that the white liquid secreted by the females of spiders is still rightly called milk, since it obviously serves the same purpose as breast milk.
The authors of the discovery add that it is not entirely clear how exactly Toxeus magnus produces the nutrient fluid. However, they have a version that it can be “made” from unfertilized eggs that the female somehow processes.
But testing the hypothesis is not the only thing that scientists have to do in the next step. They also plan to see what prospects spider milk or its laboratory counterparts can provide for human nutrition.
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