Why bugs, tarantulas, and other creatures shed their skin
To grow or get rid of parasites, many animals need to molt. Here are the many fascinating ways it happens.
When you’ve got a tough exterior, there’s only one way to grow: Shed your skin.
Arthropods, the most abundant group of animals on Earth, all possess a hard outer covering called an exoskeleton, which protects them from predators and supports their bodies. From a crab’s shell to a ladybug’s shiny back, exoskeletons come in a many shapes and sizes, but most are made of the same fibrous material: chitin.
When a young arthropod is ready to grow hormones trigger its skin to begin molting, a process known as ecdysis. The outer layer of the exoskeleton, the cuticle, and the layer beneath, the epidermis, begin to form a new, replacement cuticle. The animal then takes in a