Spiders Don’t Have Ears, But They Can Boost Their ‘Hearing’ Through Giant Webs | Science Alert


DAVID NIELD 2 APRIL 2022

Steve Satushek/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Cool.

Spider webs are essential for capturing food – but they might also be used as giant hearing aidsfor the arachnids that spin them, according to new research.

Spiders don’t have ears, but they can ‘hear’ vibrations through their legs. When prey or predators are on the move, having those vibrations boosted through the web could be invaluable, the new study suggests, with webs spun that are sometimes 10,000 times the size of the actual creatures.

The researchers used a collection of orb-weaver spiders, known for making large webs, for their experiments, getting them to produce webs inside rectangular frames in the lab that could then be put through a series of tests.

“We find that the wispy, wheel-shaped orb web acts as a hyperacute acoustic antenna to capture the sound-induced air particle movements,” write the researchers in their published paper.

A web responding to sound waves. (Binghamton University)

A laser vibrometer was used to measure the response of spider web silk to music in an anechoic chamber, a room designed to minimize sound wave reflections. The measurements showed that the webs moved in almost perfect unison with the sound, potentially capturing the audio as it hits.

Sounds of different frequencies and from different directions were tested with the webs, which then got related responses from the spiders – they typically turned, crouched, or flattened out in response. In the case of the directional audio, the spiders oriented themselves towards the location the sound was coming from.

Further experiments with miniature speakers placed close to the edge of the web showed sounds traveling further through the webs than through the air, and some of the spiders responded to the vibrations even when the sound hadn’t reached the spiders through the air. […]

Continue reading: Spiders Don’t Have Ears, But They Can Boost Their ‘Hearing’ Through Giant Webs

About agogo22

Director of Manchester School of Samba at http://www.sambaman.org.uk
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