By James Urquhart The hair on the skin of Peru purple tarantulas can soak up crude oilMachalowski, et al, J. Envron. Manage (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110218., Copyright Elsevier (2020)A sea of floating, dead tarantula skins might be an arachnophobe’s nightmare, but the moults of these spiders could help mop up ocean oil spills. The skins of spider…


                        <figure class="article-image-inline" data-method="caption-shortcode"><img src="https://images.newscientist.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ns-logo-for-featured-image.jpg?width=800" data-src="https://images.newscientist.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/12162247/spider.jpg?width=300" data- class="image lazyload" alt="Spider hairs"><div class="image-details"><figcaption class="font-sans-serif-xxxs--bold">The hair on the skin of Peru purple tarantulas can soak up crude oil</figcaption><p class="credit font-sans-serif-xxxs--regular">Machalowski, et al, J. Envron. Manage (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110218., Copyright Elsevier (2020)</p></div></figure>A sea of floating, dead tarantula skins might be an arachnophobe&rsquo;s nightmare, but the moults of these spiders could help mop up ocean oil spills.

The skins of spider skins have “very strong” water-repelling properties, says Tomasz Machałowski at Poznań University of Technology in Poland, one of the team behind the concept. This means they could be useful for cleaning-up oil spills, as the materials used need to attract oil but also repel water …

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