The Jumping Spider That Pioneered Space Travel

The first jumping spider to travel to space was named Nefertiti. The spider was part of a YouTube competition and spent 100 days in space at the International Space Station, traveling 42 million miles. The Johnson Jumper was submitted by 18-year-old Amr Mohamed from Alexandria, Egypt, who won the Space Lab video contest. Named after the Egyptian queen, Nefertiti demonstrated that its species was able to adapt to the effects of weightlessness and still catch its prey. Amr believed that the spider would have difficulty catching fruit flies in space, but Nefertiti learned to sidle up to its prey rather than jump on it. It then successfully readjusted to gravity within a few days of returning to earth. Nefertiti was accompanied by Cleopatra, a zebra spider, which died shortly after touchdown. Female spiders were chosen because male spiders normally stop eating when they are fully grown. Nefertiti died after going on display at the Smithsonian Institute. The average lifespan of jumping spiders is about a year. Nefertiti at the age of 10 months probably didn't have much longer to live anyway.