The eyes of the wonderfully wacky jumping spider are like Galilean telescopes and can see everything from laser lights to the moon.
There is a completely charming story in The Atlantic written by Ed Yong that recounts a "lovely Twitter geek-out between astronomers and arachnologists." Thanks to this tale of tweets and scientific inquiry, I learned something very important: Jumping spiders chase laser pointers.
It's all so unlikely. These are the spiders that do the world's most remarkable courtship ritual – which is something like the work of a modern dance maestro combined with a mesmerist. See exhibit A:
But that's almost nothing compared to the fact that these tiny little critters have some seriously cool peepers. Yong explains that the jumping spider's eyes are built like Galilean telescopes. "These telescopes, which Galileo started using in 1609, are basically tubes with a lens at each end. Only three groups of animals have similar eyes: falcons, chameleons, and jumping spiders," he writes. There's a longer discussion about the wonder of all of this; how the spiders are more sensitive to green lasers than red – and that scientists have calculated that these guys and gals can even see the moon!
I recommend reading the whole thing, but in the meantime, this:
.OK people we have footage. Zebra spider, office wall, green laser pointer (interest level: "OMG GIVE IT TO MEEEE") pic.twitter.com/EezkY0zRkr— Emily Levesque (@emsque) June 5, 2017
And as it turns out, this isn't the first time this has come to light, so to speak.
So there you go. If you don't have a cat to play with, check for spiders! And this could be a great tool for the arachnophobic that share their space with jumping spiders ... just take the laser pointer and show your eight-legged guests the door.
The article in its entirity is here: Tiny Jumping Spiders Can See the Moon.