Spiders Can Hear You Across The Room Even Without Ears

First Posted: Oct 15, 2016 06:08 AM EDT

Spiders do not have ears and known for their keen vibrations and vision. On the other hand, a new study indicates that a jumping spider called Phidippus audax can actually hear you at distances of 10 feet or more away from you.

According to NPR, the study, printed in Current Biology, was led by researchers from Cornell University. Paul Shamble, the co-first author of the study said that he worked with these animals for a long time now and all of a sudden you realize that their world is completely different from what you thought. He further said that it was thought that these creatures have vibration and vision, and now all of a sudden you realize that they can hear, too. "They can hear sounds at distances much farther away than previously thought, even though they lack ears with the eardrums typical of most animals with long-distance hearing."

Shamble said that they don't have ears. It seems that these spiders could hear due to their specialized hairs that pick up the actual particle movement. The sensitive hairs on their legs detect noises.

The study involved small North American jumping spiders known as Phidippus audax. Its hearing capabilities were discovered by accident. Shamble and his team were observing the spiders' brain know how they processed visual information, according to Science Alert.

Shamble explained that when Gil Menda, a co-researcher was setting up the experiments, moved away from the spider. His chair squeaked across the floor of the lab and the neuron they were recording from began popping. The team set up a speaker so they can hear the neurons fire, which they make a distinct "pop' sound. Menda did it again and the neuron fired again. Furthermore, the team started clapping at increasing distances up to 5 meters away and the spider was still responding. Menda said that based on what they knew it shouldn't have been possible, but there it was.

They analyzed how the spiders hear them. They placed water droplets on their legs to dull the vibrations of the hairs, then their auditory neurons in their brains stopped firing. This means they couldn't hear anymore. On the other hand, the team said that even though spiders have keen hearing, it wouldn't sound the way it does to humans. This means that they can tell you are talking from across the room. On the other hand, they're certainly not listening to you, according to Shamble.


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