Under an electron microscope, spider skin is cooler than you might have imagined

Up close, spiders look like scary alien creatures ready to devour any mammals who dare cross their mandibles. Up extremely close, however, a spider's skin is richly textured, with spiky hairs that resemble industrial towers rising from the landscape.

This electron microscope photo was taken by Maria Barbajo, and appears on electron microscope supplier FEI Company's Flickr photostream. As you might imagine, FEI has loads of amazing microscopic images that ensure that you'll never look at a gecko's leg or a tomato leaf the same way again. I'd also recommend checking out the gallery on FEI's own website, which includes such phenomenal electron microscope images as this human tooth and this carbon ash grain.

The caption identifies those yellow spheres as grains of pollen, but a Flickr commenter notes that, based on their size and shape, they are more likely brochosomes, the microscopic granules secreted by leafhoppers, that got stuck to the spider's skin after a tasty leafhopper meal.

Spider Skin [FEI Company via Radiolab]

Under an electron microscope, spider skin is cooler than you might have imagined