The eyes have it for perfect predator

Jul 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The most striking feature of jumping spiders is their arsenal of big eyes. In contrast to web-building spiders, they rely on their excellent vision to actively hunt and catch their insect prey. New research gives an insight into just how incredibly sophisticated the jumping spider's vision actually is, and explains why they are such an effective predator.

As published in the , and highlighted in the current issue journal Nature, Daniel Zurek and his colleagues from Macquarie University, Australia, decided to test the functioning ability of just one of the three sets of eyes of the species Servaea vestita. Using removable dental silicone they covered the larger central pair of eyes and the pair positioned more to the rear of the spiders' heads, leaving just the smaller forward-facing pair of eyes (the anterior lateral eyes) uncovered.

They then showed the spiders moving dots on a screen as well as tethered live house flies, favoured prey of the spiders, and recorded their responses to each, replicating this experiment with 52 individual spiders.

"Even when the spiders were confined to from this secondary pair of eyes, they could respond to targets that are very hard for other animals to see. They were able to detect, stalk and attack flies, which was unexpected," Zurek says.

"We believe this pair of eyes could have been underestimated by scientists in the past, and may be the most versatile element of their visual system, providing both spatial acuity and motion detection.

"It's astonishing that these animals, which have a body length of just 12 millimetres and a brain a fraction of the size of a honeybee's, have developed such a sophisticated visual system covering almost 360 degrees with such high resolution," he added.

"They divvy up different visual tasks, such as motion detection or high acuity detail analysis across the various sets of eyes, and it is likely that this modular approach helps the to handle the computational demands of vision."

Explore further: Cats relax to the sound of music

Related Stories

Mosquitoes supply spider with blood

Oct 11, 2005

Scientists in Sydney, Australia, say they've determined an East African species of jumping spider prefers to prey on blood-engorged female mosquitoes. And that, the Macquarie University researchers said, demonstrates a rare ...

Plant and animal in direct competition for food

May 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Animals often compete aggressively with each other for food or other resources, and plants often compete with each other for light, water, or other resources. Now scientists in the U.S. have ...

Study: Crickets 'forewarn' unborn babies about spiders

Feb 17, 2010

Just because cricket moms abandon their eggs before they hatch doesn't mean they don't pass wisdom along to their babies. New research in the American Naturalist shows that crickets can warn their unborn babies about potent ...

Recommended for you

Cats relax to the sound of music

1 hour ago

According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon and a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro in Portugal, music is likew ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

3 hours ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

3 hours ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

Hunting for living fossils in Indonesian waters

3 hours ago

The Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis) was thought to be extinct for more than 60 million years and took the science world by storm in 1938 when it was re-discovered living in South Africa. This fish has ...

An elephant never forgets the way to the watering hole

5 hours ago

A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B tracked the movement of elephants across the African savannah. The elephants chose the shortest distances towards watering holes, pin-pointing the lo ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.