The amazing (and deadly) science of the jumping spider’s vision

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The Amazing Visual System of Jumping Spiders

Oh, hello, look at you. Oh, aren’t you a deadly little hunter? So fuzzy, so cute. No, no! Zoom in you fools. That’s better. Oh, look at those eyes. Oh, you such a cutie. Who’s your cute little spider? That’s right you are, yeah! Hey, smart people, Joe here. Behold my children. I mean, my pets. I used to hate spiders okay, but jumping spiders, these are the ones that made me change my mind. Like I legitimately love spiders now. It’s because of these guys, and it’s the eyes, that’s what did it for me. They’re so curious. They look up at you, they follow you. They’re genuinely so stinkin’ cute. But beyond their cuteness, jumping spiders possess one of the most advanced and highly tuned visual systems in the animal kingdom. I remember a few years ago I read an article that said Jumping spiders might be able to see the moon in detail. I was like, are you kidding me? Nothing else that’s this small can see anywhere near that kind of resolution. So how do they do it? I made this video to find the answer to that question. We are gonna get up close and personal with these guys So that we can see some of the really cool things that they can do. And how their one-of-a kind visual system makes that possible. And I visited a lab to see how real scientists study these things. Okay but first things first, what is a jumping spider? Spiders come in a lot of shapes and forms, but about one in eight known spider species is a jumping spider, making them the biggest family of spiders on earth. There are more jumping spider species than species of mammals. They’re officially known as salticidae or salticids. That comes from the Latin word to jump. And jumpers come in a lot of shapes in sizes too. Unless you live in Antarctica there’s probably a jumping spider near you right now. You should be honored. So this is kind of a weird thing to study. – Usually when I tell people that I study spiders I get sort of a very shocked reaction. First, people didn’t even really know that there are people that do spend a lot of their time watching spiders and seeing how they behave. But I think especially in the case of jumping spiders, Because of their large charismatic eyes, a lot of people start to become really intrigued and ask questions and you know what do they see? – What is it like to be a jumping spider? What’s your day like? What’s your environment like? What do you do? – So the sensory sort of world of jumping spiders is very different than ours. Well a jumping spider detects a lot of cues in its environment through vibrations. They’re also tasting things with their feet. Their visual world is also very different because us and many other vertebrates We have two eyes that look around our world, but their eyes are set up very very differently. – Okay, most spiders have eight eyes. It’s like the second thing you learn after spiders have eight legs. But most types of spiders don’t actually rely on vision as their number one sense. They detect vibrations in their surroundings using tiny hairs, or they smell chemicals in their environment. But vision is number one for jumping spiders, it’s what makes them such deadly hunters. And we’re about to put that to the test with this little cricket. Circle of life guys. The idea is that this spider is going to eat this cricket and we’re gonna get the pounce in slow motion. All you gotta do okay is just go eat that okay, go eat that. It’s right there in front of you, just take it. Please jump, please jump, please jump. Oh, I hate you so much. Please back up. Oh my god, oh my god, go. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. (dramatic music) Oh my gosh, that took like a whole day. When your hunting strategy involves flinging yourself at your prey, you need eyes with really good depth perception, sensitivity, and detail. Now just like a camera, there’s usually a trade off. More sensitivity typically means less detail and vice versa. – Basically the more light That a single cell or single photo receptor can take in it reduces a resolution. So if you sort of think of it like a TV screen with the number of pixels you have, if you have really large pixels, each individual one could be bright but less pixels make up the whole image. There’s constantly a trade off between how many photons you can take in versus how small details you can resolve in your environment. – If you want more sensitivity you can make bigger sensory cells to sample a lot of light but then you can’t fit as many in your eye so you lose detail. If you want more detail you make your sensors smaller so you have more of ’em, but then they’re less sensitive. Different animals have evolved different kinds of eyes to solve this trade off. Insects obviously have very tiny peepers, but they solved the detail problem using compound eyes. Every facet on a compound eye Acts kinda like its own eyeball. So the more they pack in their head, the more detail. Each one only samples a super tiny area, but they add up to give a kind of mosaic view of the world. Dragonflies have pretty much the best compound eyes out there With around 30,000 of those little units per eye. To get that level of detail though, their head is like all eyes. They’ve run out of eye real estate, that’s their limit. For a compound eye to see as much detail as the human eye can, it’d have to be the size of a basketball Which would make it pretty hard to fly. Humans and other animals went for a totally different solution. Round eyes with a lens up front that focuses light on a big layer of cells at the back. Packing lots of those cells back there means a crisp detailed picture. We’ve got hundreds of millions of those light sensing cells in our eyes. And some birds of prey have like 10 times more than we do. Things with backbones and skulls can support huge eyes, but jumping spiders are not huge. Most of them can fit on like a pencil eraser. You can’t fit big eyes or millions of light sensing cells in this guy. Yeah when it comes to detail and sensitivity they have the best eyes of anything without a backbone on land. But they don’t have compound eyes and they don’t have eyes like humans. So the big question is how do they do it? It all starts with those two big adorable eyes up front. They’re not actually round, they’re tubes, kinda like telescopes. Lens on the front to focus light onto a retina in the back. – The front two eyes, they’re called the principle eyes. But with jumping spiders, although their eyes are big relative to their body size, they’re still very, very, very small. – To get high detail out of those tiny eyes these guys have a really cool trick up their eight sleeves. They can move those telescope eyes inside their heads. – Each eye tube has its own set of muscles, and what they can do is they can independently move each of them. – Jumping spider eyes are only big enough to fit a few hundred light sensing cells, but as each little telescope eye moves it samples little bits of the larger image, Almost like shining a flashlight at different parts of a picture until you can make out the whole thing. So they get amazing vision in a fraction of the space that around eye would require. Telescopes for eyes. Are you kidding me? But that telescope scanning trick is only part of the story. Wonder if these guys would chase a laser pointer like a cat does? There’s only one way to find out. Oh, what’d you see? See this over here? What’s this? What’s this? Oh, you…

Animal Solution to Vision Tradeoff
Insects Compound Eyes
Humans and Birds Round eyes with lens and layer of cells at the back

The Visual System of Jumping Spiders

  • Jumping spiders possess one of the most advanced and highly tuned visual systems in the animal kingdom.
  • Most spiders rely on vision as their number one sense, but jumping spiders are exceptional hunters due to their advanced visual system.
  • Jumping spider eyes are tubes that can move independently, allowing them to sample different parts of an image and achieve amazing vision in a small space.

Clip video in engleza despre asta, numit : Știința uimitoare (și mortală) a vederii păianjenului săritor

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