A unique spider in the Amazon rain forest was recently spotted using bits of leaves and dead insects to create larger-scale decoy spider shapes in its web, which it uses to ward off predators.
“I’ve seen a lot of weird things in the Amazon, but this one definitely stood out,” science educator and biologist Phil Torres, who made the amazing find, told Raw Story. “It’s not yet certain that this is a new species — it really looks like it, and it probably is — but that’ll be confirmed soon. As far as the behavior, it’s definitely not something anybody else has seen.”
His finding was first published in Rainforest Expeditions last week.
He described seeing the collection of debris in a web and thinking it was a dead spider, but upon closer inspection it appeared to be moving.
“Then we got closer and realized it wasn’t a spider at all,” he said. “We looked behind the decoy and lo and behold, we saw this little spider guy shaking [his web] back and forth trying to act all tough. We realized then that this is really something special.”
Torres added that the behavior is not an example of a spider having a type of self-recognition and creating a kind of spider art that resembles itself. Instead, he said the spider decoys represent a complex and interwoven series of patterns the spider has evolved in the specialized environment of the Amazon.
“There are some species that will make a little ball of debris in their web, then they curl up in a ball themselves and look similar to it,” he explained. “So, if you look at a web and you’re a wasp or another spider and you see 10 balls, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get confused and attack the wrong one.”
This, however, is a further evolution of that behavior. “It’s a very well evolved system, an intricate design that’s built into them that they can construct,” Torres said. “It’s a matter of following simple patters that, over a long time, have really gotten quite specialized.”