Chair squeak exposes spider's 'hearing' prowess


Their sound-sensing hairs are much more sensitive than previously thought. 



Looking at the eyes of a jumping spider, you can see why biologists thought that they had little to no need for excellent hearing.

But now, thanks to an accidental discovery published in Current Biology, it seems the little critters can hear sounds not only within a short distance, but across rooms as well.

While at Cornell University, Paul Shamble and Gil Menda were recording neural activity in the brain of jumping spiders with electrodes when the fortuitous event occurred.

On the other side of the room, Menda moved his chair which squeaked across the floor.

This sound prompted a neuron in the spider's brain to fire. When he moved his chair again, the neuron fired once more.

The video above shows co-author Ronald Hoy explaining the research that followed this chance discovery.

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Kate Goldberg is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts and Science at Monash University with majors in politics and genetics.
  1. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30985-X
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