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Science

Spider Discovered That Builds Its Own Spider Decoys 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the welp-it's-been-a-good-run dept.
OakDragon writes "A newly discovered species of spider — apparently of the genus Cyclosa — has been discovered in the Peruvian Amazon. The spider builds an elaborate decoy out of web, twigs, and other scraps, which appears to be a much larger spider. The spider will even cause the decoy to move, marionette-style, by shaking the web."
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Spider Discovered That Builds Its Own Spider Decoys

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  • or maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Torvac (691504) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:34AM (#42334477)
    it builds a monument of its spider god ? our next overlord
    • Maybe this is similar how the irratus bug started.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qbitslayer (2567421)

      No. It's a monument to evolution because evolution designs everything even though it's not trying to design anything.

      • Spiders are master engineers, there's an Attenbourough clip somewhere of a spider that hoists empty snail shells up into a bush and ties it to a branch as a house. There's another kind that makes a sort of catapult out of silk to shoot down bugs. Some orb weavers put shock absorbers in the center of their webs. You can tell they don't "know" what they are doing because all members of the species build the same structures. I can understand people not wanting to touch them, I can't understand the sheer terro
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I can't understand the sheer terror some people display at the sight of them.

          They're pretty much nature's perfect predator. All of what you've described above is done for the express purpose of killing. It tends to unsettle people. Couple that with the fact that there are many out there the size of a quarter that can kill or severely mess up a human, and you set off a lot of instinctual fear.

  • It can count... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DSS11Q13 (1853164) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:41AM (#42334491)

    for some reason, the thing I'm marveling at the most is that it knows it has 8 legs. How?!

    Why not 6 or 7? ...because 7, 8, 9?

    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:48AM (#42334523)
      You thought that spiders are stupid, eh? They go to school, where they learn reeling and writhing...
    • Re:It can count... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by michelcolman (1208008) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @04:09AM (#42334813)

      That's just due to selection... by the photographer. There's another picture further down in the article where the decoy only seems to have five legs. But of course the one that looks most like a spider, with eight legs, was selected for the top of the article.

    • by Volguus Zildrohar (1618657) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @04:27AM (#42334907)

      Of course the spider can't count. It's just that the spiders who made 6 and 7 legged decoys got eaten by the birds that could count.

    • for some reason, the thing I'm marveling at the most is that it knows it has 8 legs. How?!

      Why not 6 or 7? ...because 7, 8, 9?

      It could be that through its genetic factors the spider could "know" (in a very low, evolutionary level) how it looks like and thus what kind of thing to replicate.

    • by Megane (129182)
      Because if it put in 9 legs, it wouldn't have enough legs of its own to pull the strings, duh!
    • A few other posters identified some possible reasons (photographer's preference, etc)

      However, a creature (or person) doesn't need to understand a visual object to imitate it. I think it's pretty awesome that it looks so much like a spider, but as an example, someone doesn't need to know what a tree is to know that a Japanese Maple looks vastly different from a Blue Spruce if I see them side by side.

      So the spider could make a 5 legged decoy, and 'know' that it looks wrong.

      There is also the fact that spiders

  • Kinda like the movie Mimic...
    • by kale77in (703316)
      Mimic was my all-time #1 bad-science movie, for one single, monumental plot hole. In order to develop, the mega-roaches needed selection pressures to favour those that resembled humans, but no humans or other predators were even aware of them, let alone selectively killing off the non-humanoid ones.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Damn nature you scary!

  • Gotta love (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:00AM (#42334571) Journal

    evolution.

    Not only did this spider decided it needed a bigger version of itself to scare off would be predators, it knew it had to make it move to look be really effective.

    I know people who aren't even this smart.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Spiders that built something that looked like it had two legs survived over those who built one. Eventually those the spider that built eight in the right shape did better at surviving then all the others. It probably didn't happen exactly that way but along those lines.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by michelcolman (1208008)

      What I don't understand, though, is that a big spider hanging in a web is probably likely to scare off not only predators, but prey as well. What self-respecting insect is going to fly straight past a big spider? Surely evolution must have "taught" them by now that where a big spider is floating in mid-air, there's probably a web around it?

      And what about predators interested in eating big spiders?

      On the other hand, this construction may actually be quite effective in keeping big, clumsy animals like, say, h

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Evolution is not the word you're looking for. The phrase you're looking for is natural selection.

  • Holoduke (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:12AM (#42334613) Homepage

    Someone should check if the spiders were doing this before 1996, because I bet they stole the idea from Duke 3D.

    • by azalin (67640)
      Nay, they reached their final form after countless years of tinkering. Oh well... They do have something in common with a certain Duke title.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    that makes miniature models of factories.

  • because I don't want to live in this planet anymore. We as a human race are losing the war against the evolving arachnids.
  • by hack slash (1064002) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:54AM (#42334743)
    I'm going to do the same to ward off other people.

    *builds giant man in garden out of wicker*
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is does the spider know that what it's built looks like it? This could have evolved to look like a spider from a predators perspective but the spider probably has no idea what its making.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "know" is such a weird word really.

    • I'm pretty sure the spider has seen other spiders before. Like it's mother and siblings and mates. Or looking in the reflection of water. I'm not knowledgeable enough in arachnid neurology to know the extent of mental awareness of spiders but I'm pretty sure it can make a pretty good guess at what it looks like.

      However, if you mean the spider is just putting sticks and debris there in the web out of instinct and puts no conscious effort into it, I may concede that point to you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...why we are discussing the spider instead of brainstorming ways to wipe them from existence. Seriously, a spider that builds fucking decoys? That exceeds the threshold for me being comfortable with it as a species. And before you scream "you're just prejudice against spiders!" I'll have you know that the day my friend's chow builds a life-size German Shepard in her living room I'll be the first one grabbing for a shotgun. It takes effort to stay on top of the pyramid of edible shit, we can't afford to

  • Why can't we have mechas too?
  • by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @08:05AM (#42335685) Homepage Journal
    But what happens when that spider discovers tar, makes an ersatz spider out of it, drinks too much, and fights with it?
  • Let me know when it writes "radiant" and I'll be impressed

  • So this fake spider might scare off other preys, but wouldn't it also scare off it's food?
  • They only look that way because you're looking at dollar figures. What you're not taking into account is the value of the dollar. If you adjust for that, IT wages have been in free fall for over a decade as the value of the dollar plummets. If you're making $60k now, you're making less than someone making $30k in 1997. $80? Not even work the $50k from that time period. Don't believe me? When was the last time you spent $40 for a cart full of groceries? Everything is relative.
  • How do they know that's a decoy? I've seen other spiders that put stuff in their web. I remember a big black and yellow spider in the garden when I was a kid that had something similar. I speculated that it was there to help prevent birds from flying into it and destroying the web. In this case, the spidery appearance of the junk in the web appears to follow from the fact that the junk has been stuck to the strands of the web, which radiate out from the center much like the legs of a spider.

    • Though I suppose the decoy idea makes sense for avoiding being eaten by birds. In which case this isn't the only species of spider that does that, there is at least one more in North America.

  • one or more of the following: - irate baby-mamas - process servers - loan sharks - Jehova's witnesses - the crack spider At least that's the impression that I get from watching this related video [collegehumor.com]
  • The decoy was built by the creatures in the next bush over. Three poison arrow frogs behind a blind, aiming at the spider coming up behind the decoy.
  • So are these spiders herbivores? Because otherwise it would seem that having a giant spider decoy hanging in your web would be counter-productive for a carnivorous diet.
  • Got the creepy crawlies now!

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