UH researchers head to Antarctica to study strange 'giant sea spiders'

Published: Jul. 14, 2017 at 2:04 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2017 at 11:27 AM HST
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ANTARCTICA (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you're afraid of spiders, you might want to stop here.

University of Hawaii researchers are traveling all the way to Antarctica to discover new facts about a unique sea spider.

Researchers have discovered that the giant sea spider breathes through the surface of their legs to intake much needed oxygen.

As the spiders digest food, oxygen is transported throughout their bodies as the gut contracts. It is extended all the way through the animals legs.

"I think it's just kind of an 'aha' moment or a 'gee whiz' moment where you suddenly realize that what you think guts are for digestion and hearts and blood vessels are for moving oxygen around, and here you find an animal that does it in a completely different and unexpected way," Amy Moran, UH Manoa, biology associate professor said.

The spider's hearts are weak, therefore they need their guts to help with the circulation.

Hawaii researchers got a nearly $300,000 grant to study the anthropods.

They can reportedly grow to the size of dinner plates, and are distant marine relatives to land spiders.

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