For decades, entomologists around the world have all agreed that spiders cannot hear sounds. But how could arthropod researchers be so sure that spiders are unable to hear? Well . . . they just looked at the spiders with a magnifying glass and did not find any ears – case closed!
This line of lazy thinking changed when a study conducted by a team of researchers noticed that spiders were able to hear people talking from meters away. Later on, a lead bug researcher from Cornell University discovered that spiders do, indeed, possess an acute sense of hearing.
However, despite a spider’s lack of ears, as well as all of the necessary components that allow an organism to register sounds, such as an eardrum, spiders are able to register sounds through tiny sensitive hairs located on their legs. Once the outside sound waves make contact with the hairs, the hairs begin to vibrate. These vibrations are translated into neural activity, so, in other words, spiders don’t just experience the sensation of vibration, rather, the spiders are hearing the sound waves, and not just feeling them.
The North American Jumping Spider served as the subject for these experiments. Now, the very same team involved with the NA Jumping Spider wants to subject wolf spiders, and fishing spiders to the very same experiment in order to see if these two popular spiders possess the same ability.
Do you think that nearly all spider species possess a medium (like the vibrating leg hairs in the case of the jumping spider) that receives information which is eventually translated into neural activity that the spider can cognize into sound?