mathNEWS Issue 91.1: Friday, January 17th, 2003

Mexican Jumping Death Spiders

The mexican jumping death spider is a very peculiar kind of spider indeed. The name is misleading, as this spider is native to the Waterloo region. The rest of its name comes from the fact that as a direct result of the spider jumping, it dies.

The mexican jumping death spider will only die if it intends to jump, and makes it to the apex of that jump. If you were to attach some metal to this spider and place an electromagnet nearby such that the spider moves as if it were jumping, it would not die. Also, if you were to somehow force its legs to go through the motions of jumping, it would not die. Again, if there was a wall directly in front of the maximum height the spider would reach in its jump, it would not die. The mexican jumping death spider will only die from jumping if it consciously makes the decision to jump and succeeds in doing so. The spider will jump, and when it reaches the peak of the jump, it dies. Mexican jumping death spiders always land on their back. Mexican jumping death spiders do know that they will die when they jump, it is when they are startled that they jump to hide, then they die. It is not possible to kill a mexican jumping death spider in any way other than making it want to jump.

It would seem that there would not be very many of these spiders in the region, but the jumping actually increases their numbers. In the same way that the mexican jumping death spider dies as a result of jumping, a male spider of this species must jump to mate. After some time, the female will have a huge urge to jump. She will jump, die and hundreds of baby mexican jumping death spiders will emerge. Only a few of these spiders actually survive, because most of them try to jump away. If the female did not give birth in this fashion, she would not be able to have as many children.

Please note that since the only way to kill a mexican jumping death spider is to make it jump successfully, they can effectively be grant temporary immortality by amputating their legs. However since it is a spider, the legs will grow back over time.

A common misconception about the mexican jumping death spider is that since they must jump to die, they do not need to eat/sleep/brush their teeth. This is not true. If a spider of this species neglects to get sufficient nourishment/rest/oral hygiene, it shall be overcome with the urge to jump; and it shall die.

Mexican jumping death spiders are incredibly good jumpers. They can cover large distances in a single bound; they will simply not live to see their great feat. As a point of interest, a Mexican jumping death spider thrown into a fire will usually jump. Intelligence in a mexican jumping death spider consists purely of a commitment to NOT JUMPING.

The Mexican jumping death spider is a rare sight to see in Waterloo, and chances are if you see one, it will die trying to hide from you. Please, for the sake of the species, do not look for them; they are an endangered species.

squirrelKING and his nuttyMINION: Alien Angel.
dwhelton@student.math.uwaterloo.ca (/~dwhelton) and alienangel.deviantart.com, respectively.



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