Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Powerful Predators – Adaptations of Trap-Jaw Spiders


  • Title: Powerful Predators – Adaptations of Trap-Jaw Spiders
  • Air Date: January 12, 2017
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features Dr. Hannah Wood, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Find out how trap-jaw spiders prey on insects using a combination of stealth and power-amplified snapping jaws. Accompany Hannah on a journey to Chile and New Zealand to get a glimpse of these remarkable predators in action. Compare their hunting techniques with related spiders to understand more about spider diversity and evolution. See how Hannah uses 3-D modeling techniques to understand how spiders work.

Teaching Resources

Spiders as Predators

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • MS-LS1-4: Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-2: Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
  • MS-LS4-4: Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals' probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Life Science