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Watch a Spider Amputate its Own Leg

A European garden spider amputates its own leg, likely to prevent venom from a wasp bite entering the rest of its body.
A European garden spider amputates its own leg, likely to prevent venom from a wasp bite entering the rest of its body. (Image credit: BBC)

You know how it is. You've just killed a delicious wasp and are preparing to feast when, all of a sudden, you feel the pangs of venom rushing up your leg. So you bite it off.

Or such was probably the case for a humble European garden spider filmed by Tim Edwards, an editor at BBC Earth, in his garden. Edwards notice that after wrapping up the wasp, the spider changed its behavior and appeared to stroke and bite one of its legs, before it fell off shortly later, according to the BBC. Edwards consulted biologists who said that the spider likely self-amputated (a process known at autotomy) to prevent venom from the wasp from reaching the rest of its body.

Garden spiders are a common — but apparently bad-ass — arachnid found throughout Europe. Luckily, they regenerate legs after they periodically molt, or shed their skin. So this spider won't be doomed to a life with seven legs.

Watch the video at the BBC. 

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.