Spiders Are so Scary That They Actually Scare Other Spiders, Scientists Find
It turns out, there's no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed about your fear of spiders. Scientists have discovered that spiders are so scary, even other spiders are scared of them.
New research published by the British Ecological Society put spiders in front of other spiders — and they were so scared, they jumped or ran away.
"For all arachnophobes out there, we found a thing you have in common with spiders. Time to reconsider and sympathize," Dr. Daniela Roessler, an author of the study, wrote on Twitter.
The study, which researchers nicknamed "Arachno-Arachnophobia," looked at how jumping spiders process potential threats. Scientists placed jumping spiders near a few objects posing as potential threats, then observed how the jumping spiders reacted.
The first object was a simple, black, 3D-printed sphere. The test spider wasn't scared at all of the sphere. It scurried toward it and climbed on top. But things were different when the objects started to get more lifelike. The test spider started to get more wary as the objects gained features like eyes and legs.
When the spider came face to face with a dead specimen of a larger spider, it froze completely and then slowly backed away. Another test saw a spider nonchalantly approach, then quickly realize the potential threat of the other spider and scurry away as fast as it could.
Scientists deduced that spiders recognize the threat of another spider, even if it isn't moving. The spiders were more likely to run away in fright if the "threat" spider had eyes.
Researchers are excited by the results because "recognizing static objects is hard," Roessler explained on Twitter. A lot of information generally comes from how predators move, so to recognize a "static predator" increases chances of survival.
And while that sounds scientifically gratifying, it's alright if the only reason you're excited about the test is that it validates your own arachnophobia.