This little jumping spider had her back to me. At the sound of the shutter she quickly turned to examine me with four of her eyes.
I was started by her examination, and she spent quite a while looking at me before walking away.
I thought at the time how intelligently she seemed to be assessing me, and was interested to read this recent article about a study happening now in New Zealand which exactly described her behaviour.
“Jumping spiders are one of the smartest animals on the planet for their size, given that typically they measure less than one centimetre,” says EPA scientist Dr Clark Ehlers.
“They have exceptional visual and spatial abilities, and researchers will investigate how they are able to forward map and execute decisions using these skills.”
The spiders have an almost 360 degree field of view. Four or six secondary eyes act as motion detectors, and when something of interest is detected the spider spins around to bring its two large, forward-facing primary eyes to bear.
“This sophisticated visual system is vastly superior to their closest insect rivals, and approaches that of primates,” notes Canterbury University Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Dr Ximena Nelson. “This is a stunning demonstration of evolutionary design and miniaturisation that, were it understood, would make our best robotics engineers weep.”