Spiders crawling over the wall, or God forbid, on you, can be highly hair-raising. However, watching a spider making its web is one of the most satisfying things to watch, from a safe distance, of course. Apart from being an appealing process to look at, spider making a web can also immensely stimulate your curiosity. That is exactly what happened with Andrew Gordus, senior author of the study, Department of Biology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, during one of his birding expeditions. As a result, he, along with other researchers, conducted a study and discovered how spiders make such intricate and geometrically loaded webs despite having brains the size equivalent to a fraction of ours. The team of researchers at the John Hopkins University used night vision and artificial intelligence to document movement, analyse data, and create algorithm-based web-building patterns, as per Science Daily.
The team studied a hackled orb weaver, a species of spider native to the western parts of the United States. An area enclosed by a plethora of infrared cameras and lights was set up, and the spider was left to do what it does naturally, build a web. The cameras tracked even the slightest leg movements, which became the fodder for limb detection programs.
“We trained a machine vision software to detect the posture of the spider, frame by frame, so as to document each and every leg while building the web. This way was efficient since recording would be highly tedious and difficult,” said Abel Corver, lead author of the study, in a press release.
Corver added, “These crawlers are fascinating since their brain are built on the same building blocks as ours, and understanding them can help us gain more insight into larger brain systems such as humans’.” In addition, the machine vision program was facilitated by a neurological similarity between various spiders, which helped the software predict the next structural element of the web, based on the movement of the spider’s legs.
The next step for the researchers consists of experimenting with mind-altering substances to look deeper into the spider’s brain circuits responsible for the construction of elegant, complex webs.