How does a spider make a web?
You’ve probably accidentally wandered into a spider web and wondered how they make these creations right under your nose without you noticing. This is because most spiders do their web weaving at night, away from prying human eyes. However, new research from scientists at Johns Hopkins University offers insights into this mysterious process.
To study how an animal so small and with such a rudimentary brain can build something so complex using only the sense of touch, the researchers observed a small spider native to the Western US called the orb weaver. Setting up infrared lights and a camera in a lab, they were able to use machine vision software to track the millions of individual leg movements of six different spiders as they went about their web weaving ways.
Spider leg movements
What the researchers found is that even though webs may look differently, all the spiders use the same technique to go about their architectural endeavors. This method for web building is so specific that researchers were eventually able to determine which section of a web they were working on just by the spider’s leg position.
“The spider is fascinating,” said lead author Abel Corver. “Because here you have an animal with a brain built on the same fundamental building blocks as our own, and this work could give us hints on how we can understand larger brain systems, including humans, and I think that’s very exciting.”