No-one likes spiders, and thanks to the findings of science, we know they can hear what we’ve been saying about them… Ohhh.
Nature’s bastard, otherwise known as the humble spider, has a great number of talents, from turning the most masculine of fronts to a quivering mess, to making our prim relations drop pretence and curse like a docker at the mere sight of one. However, the spider gets a bad rap; because we hate it, we are seldom impressed by it. But to those of you who audibly registered disgust at the previous sentence, if there was a spider in the room, it probably heard you, and all eight eyes are now turned toward you with vengeance. Well, maybe two showed sadness, but the rest, you know…vengeance.
You see, researchers at the Cornell University have discovered another ability of our many-legged domestic foe. A certain type of spider, known as the jumping spider (Pleaseno gogetfuctus), can actually hear you from about 10 feet away. For a cretin of its size, that is massive news. The excellently monikered Paul Shamble, co-author of the study, excitedly squealed, “You thought they were just these little creatures of vibration and vision, and now all of a sudden you realise that they can hear, too.”
Towering days in the Shamble household, there.
But what of yours, and how do they hear, and moreover how do they test it? I initially figured that it was a room full of doctorates screaming at a hatful of creepy crawlies, before agreeing on a consensus later on at the pub, but no:
The true Newtonian moment came by ways of an errant chair squeak, Pauly Shamble claiming that “We were doing these studies on how the brains of jumping spiders perceive vision”, explaining that they were using technology that measured the neuron activity in a spider’s brain. Shamble’s colleague and co-author Gil Menda was working in the lab when he backed up his chair, which let out a loud squeak the spider responded to, by freezing – an instinctual act to protect itself from predators, who usually own a low-frequency report à la the chair. Good old, Gil. The aforementioned neurons started firing and continued in what Shamble described as “one of those strange moments, where it was like, based on what we know, this shouldn’t be happening, but it definitely is.”
Ridiculously interesting discovery there, old bean. So, you genocidal maniacs, next time you decide to Baygon something back to its spidery maker, know that it can hear you coming, and the horrible mortal certainty that is about to befall it. You monsters.
In the name of bettered knowledge around that which we hate through a lack of education, we asked some of The Big Smoke’s writers to share their favourite facts about those eight-legged bastards, I mean interesting creatures.
The fact that a solitary bite from a spider can turn the most average of actors into box-office gold is truly amazing.
The “Brown Recluse Spider” is my power animal. Forgoing casual relationships, its bite is limp and ineffectual, but untreated it can kill a very lazy, disrespectful victim with little or no hospital cover.
They’re institutionalised. Much like Brooks in Shawshank, the spiders you find inside your house are used to those conditions. They’re somebody inside. The world outside is foreign to them. Paroling them to the outside is cruel, and we all remember what happened to Brooks.