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119 comments

or maybe (5, Interesting)

Torvac (691504) | about a year ago | (#42334477)

it builds a monument of its spider god ? our next overlord

Re:or maybe (3, Insightful)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about a year ago | (#42334689)

No. It's a monument to evolution because evolution designs everything even though it's not trying to design anything.

Re:or maybe (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42336373)

Spiders are master engineers, there's an Attenbourough clip somewhere of a spider that hoists empty snail shells up into a bush and ties it to a branch as a house. There's another kind that makes a sort of catapult out of silk to shoot down bugs. Some orb weavers put shock absorbers in the center of their webs. You can tell they don't "know" what they are doing because all members of the species build the same structures. I can understand people not wanting to touch them, I can't understand the sheer terror some people display at the sight of them.

Re:or maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336693)

I can't understand the sheer terror some people display at the sight of them.

They're pretty much nature's perfect predator. All of what you've described above is done for the express purpose of killing. It tends to unsettle people. Couple that with the fact that there are many out there the size of a quarter that can kill or severely mess up a human, and you set off a lot of instinctual fear.

Re:or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42339025)

Kevin Smith take note.

It can count... (4, Insightful)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | about a year ago | (#42334491)

for some reason, the thing I'm marveling at the most is that it knows it has 8 legs. How?!

Why not 6 or 7? ...because 7, 8, 9?

Re:It can count... (5, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#42334523)

You thought that spiders are stupid, eh? They go to school, where they learn reeling and writhing...

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42340787)

Is it only snakes that learn fainting in coils?

Re:It can count... (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year ago | (#42334813)

That's just due to selection... by the photographer. There's another picture further down in the article where the decoy only seems to have five legs. But of course the one that looks most like a spider, with eight legs, was selected for the top of the article.

Re:It can count... (4, Funny)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year ago | (#42335011)

Spiders hate it when someone shows their unfinished work.

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336797)

They hate being anthropomorphised even more!

Re:It can count... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42335803)

That's just due to selection... by the photographer. There's another picture further down in the article where the decoy only seems to have five legs. But of course the one that looks most like a spider, with eight legs, was selected for the top of the article.

But maybe those are partial structures? There could be a limit of 8 in most cases.

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337023)

In the spider's defense, spiders very frequently lose legs. A spider with 5-7 legs isn't unusual.

Re:It can count... (5, Funny)

Volguus Zildrohar (1618657) | about a year ago | (#42334907)

Of course the spider can't count. It's just that the spiders who made 6 and 7 legged decoys got eaten by the birds that could count.

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334965)

for some reason, the thing I'm marveling at the most is that a monkey knows that eating a banana causes oxidation of glucose. How?! Why not stones or sticks? ...because stick, banana, mud?

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335527)

That was more an attempt at shoehorning an old joke.
Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9. (7 ate 9)

Re:It can count... (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about a year ago | (#42339537)

"Monkey not know this glucose thing that AC speak of. Monkey just know that monkey hungry, and banana make monkey not hungry." -A. Monkey

Maybe it's something like that for the spider?

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335375)

It's not about counting, it's about pattern recognition. It's a basic trait, and it's like wondering why a bird can fly or a dog keeps his balance.

Re:It can count... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335585)

Natural selection.

Re:It can count... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42335773)

for some reason, the thing I'm marveling at the most is that it knows it has 8 legs. How?!

Why not 6 or 7? ...because 7, 8, 9?

It could be that through its genetic factors the spider could "know" (in a very low, evolutionary level) how it looks like and thus what kind of thing to replicate.

Re:It can count... (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#42337045)

Because if it put in 9 legs, it wouldn't have enough legs of its own to pull the strings, duh!

Re:It can count... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#42337057)

A few other posters identified some possible reasons (photographer's preference, etc)

However, a creature (or person) doesn't need to understand a visual object to imitate it. I think it's pretty awesome that it looks so much like a spider, but as an example, someone doesn't need to know what a tree is to know that a Japanese Maple looks vastly different from a Blue Spruce if I see them side by side.

So the spider could make a 5 legged decoy, and 'know' that it looks wrong.

There is also the fact that spiders already do 'count' or at least recognize patterns, I mean, look at the webs they make. Symmetry and patterns are big for them.

all bases are belong to my clone !!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334499)

all bases are belong to my clone !!!!!!

Creepy... (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about a year ago | (#42334521)

Kinda like the movie Mimic...

Re:Creepy... (2)

kale77in (703316) | about a year ago | (#42335131)

Mimic was my all-time #1 bad-science movie, for one single, monumental plot hole. In order to develop, the mega-roaches needed selection pressures to favour those that resembled humans, but no humans or other predators were even aware of them, let alone selectively killing off the non-humanoid ones.

Re:Creepy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337583)

I am not a biologist, but I seem to recall from various readings on evolution that it is a bit more complex than random mutations with the weaker ones being weeded out due to selection pressures. Granted the roaches evolved quickly in Mimic, perhaps a bit too quickly, but I don't think it's out of the ordinary for a creature to evolve in a way that's advantageous to it's environment, and not simply because the weaker mutations were killed off.

Re:Creepy... (1)

kkwst2 (992504) | about a year ago | (#42340659)

It is not that necessarily that the weaker ones are killed off. But there has to be some advantage to breeding or survival for a mutation to increase in frequency in a population. Otherwise it just gets diluted out. It is possible that if a mutation isn't a disadvantage it could stick around as a lineage and then later thrive when some outside pressure gets put on the species such that it is now an advantage. So it may not need to happen right way, but it does at some point need to be an advantage for the whole species to evolve.

First Animal Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334529)

Is this the first example of animal art?

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#42335073)

If it serves a purpose, it's not art.

Re:First Animal Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335417)

Says who?

Re:First Animal Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335815)

The definition of art.

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year ago | (#42335983)

The definition of art that you're using was created by humans. If animals defined "art" it'd be totally different and human art wouldn't qualify. Same thing goes with defining intelligence (e.g. humans smart, tree stupid). For all we know, the spider's decoy may be art, an actual decoy, a "god", or a mating call, who knows? Applying human-centric beliefs kind of skews your judgement though.

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#42337093)

The definition of art that you're using was created by humans. If animals defined "art" it'd be totally different and human art wouldn't qualify.

This seems to be a complete non-sequitur, unless you're unstated argument is that questions of the form "is X an example of Y" should be answered on the basis of speculative alternative definitions of Y, rather than the actual definition of Y which is the basis of the question.

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year ago | (#42337325)

How is what I said illogical? If we use human-derived definitions they are inherently human-centric. I was replying to the AC who said "the definition of art" to the question posed in the post above his/her reply that asked "Says who?"

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#42338193)

How is what I said illogical?

It proposes, in its general form, that a question should be answered based on something other than what the words in the question mean, but based on how some other entities who are the subject of the question might define the words; this is aggravated by the fact that the entities in question in the specific framing are ones which we have no reason to believe (and plenty of reason not to believe) have the ability to process the kind of abstract ideas that would let them define any words in any case.

Its as if I pointed to a green leaf on a tree and asked if it was blue, and someone responded with "Well, your definition of blue is human-centric. How would the tree define blue? Maybe the leaf is blue, and and maybe its red. We don't really know." Instead of "No, dude, the leaf is green."

Re:First Animal Art? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year ago | (#42338923)

I think we've gotten off track a bit. Someone previously asked, "Is this the first example of animal art?" A few replies went back and forth saying it wasn't art due to the definition of what "art" is. Humans don't think it's art but maybe it is art to the spiders. Kind of akin to you and I looking at a painting and us each taking opposing views of whether or not the painting were "art."

Re:First Animal Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336315)

Art is sometimes used to inform or make a statement. That would seem to serve a purpose.

Re:First Animal Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336983)

What the hell are you smoking? There is no definition of art like that. Art is used to serve all kinds of purposes.. off the top of my head:

- To entertain

- To decorate

- To advertise/market

- To inform/educate

- To inspire

- To worship

- To express an opinion

- To show membership in a group

Really I could go on all day, but I'm getting bored.
  Put down the crack pipe.

as the saying goes now... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334533)

Damn nature you scary!

Job description (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334541)

Species are distinguished on the basis of the structure of the male and female genitalia

When I thought that I already knew enough about the job of an arachnologist to stay away from it, I read this. If this also holds true for other insects, it explains quite a lot about Kinsey and his path of professions.

Re:Job description (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#42337105)

When I thought that I already knew enough about the job of an arachnologist to stay away from it, I read this. If this also holds true for other insects

Spiders aren't insects. They are arachnids (both insects and arachnids are arthropods.)

Gotta love (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42334571)

evolution.

Not only did this spider decided it needed a bigger version of itself to scare off would be predators, it knew it had to make it move to look be really effective.

I know people who aren't even this smart.

Re:Gotta love (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334681)

Spiders that built something that looked like it had two legs survived over those who built one. Eventually those the spider that built eight in the right shape did better at surviving then all the others. It probably didn't happen exactly that way but along those lines.

Re:Gotta love (3, Interesting)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year ago | (#42334855)

What I don't understand, though, is that a big spider hanging in a web is probably likely to scare off not only predators, but prey as well. What self-respecting insect is going to fly straight past a big spider? Surely evolution must have "taught" them by now that where a big spider is floating in mid-air, there's probably a web around it?

And what about predators interested in eating big spiders?

On the other hand, this construction may actually be quite effective in keeping big, clumsy animals like, say, humans, from destroying the web accidentally. Maybe that outweighs the visibility to prey.

Re:Gotta love (1)

part_of_you (859291) | about a year ago | (#42335881)

Maybe that's to keep the attention of the potential prey. The prey keeps it's focus on the big spider, and then the real one pounces from behind. I only say this because I had a dream of this same exact idea about 17 years ago.

Re:Gotta love (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#42337481)

You might assume too much about the abilities of flying insects. The bugs around my house can't seem to avoid hitting a wall or myself, much less a nearly invisible web.

Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337051)

Can you give an even somewhat reasonable step-by-step Darwinist explanation for this? First, the spider used one twig which didn't look much like an spider but gave it a slight advantage and was then when it learned to do this it encoded the knowledge into its genes.

And by "evolution" I'm going with a pure materialist definition of evolution.

Re:Evolution? (1)

reasterling (1942300) | about a year ago | (#42337723)

it encoded the knowledge into its genes.

If it is a learned behaviour then it can not be "encoded ... into its genes". Some spider species care for their young. I do not know about this species in particular, but it is posible that the knowledge could be passed from one generation to the next through example. At any rate, this is either instinctual, a sign of generational (cultural) learning, or a demonstration of the intellect (reasoning skills) of these spiders. All the comments on this forum about how this is a sign of the wonders of evolution are simply wrong. It would be like saying that we are evolving everytime we create a new type of transportation.

Re:Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42339709)

"Instinctual" knowledge would be genetic, but I would agree that calling it knowledge is inaccurate, and saying that a particular organism "encoded" that knowledge after learning it independently is "not even wrong".

Through a quirk of genetics, a spider was born with instincts that increased its odds of dragging a random twig or two into its web. It had many spiderbabies, and at odd points down the generations, the spiderbabies that had quirks of genetics that lead to cramming increased numbers of sticks into their web did a bit better, and the more those twigs looked like spiders, the better.

What I'd really like to know is whether the design is purely instinctual (the way a poorly drawn circle triggers ones OCD), or whether the instinct actually is to arrange them in a shape that the spider correlates to actual spiders (the way one winces at drawings whose eyes are the wrong shape, or too far apart).

Holoduke (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#42334613)

Someone should check if the spiders were doing this before 1996, because I bet they stole the idea from Duke 3D.

Re:Holoduke (2)

azalin (67640) | about a year ago | (#42334721)

Nay, they reached their final form after countless years of tinkering. Oh well... They do have something in common with a certain Duke title.

Re:Holoduke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336211)

this is exactly how I think of slashdot. old farts LITERALLY rehashing context-free references from two decades ago.

Re:Holoduke (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year ago | (#42337221)

...as opposed to figuratively rehashing references?

I wouldn't go so far as to call this context-free, as the Holoduke decoy was the first thing that came to mind for me as well. =)

Re:Holoduke (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | about a year ago | (#42341375)

Unshared context failure is something you'll run into, too. Indeed, you're already running into it, but on the converse side of how one might usually think of it.

What's the general solution? Always link to information about the context? And maybe the linked resource can give brief explanations and in turn link to related memes from other generations and cultures? A kind of inter-cultural / inter-generational meme translator?

Re:Holoduke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337379)

Do I smell patent litigation incoming?

Maybe Duke Nukem can make some cash from the franchise after all.

Like a factory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334651)

that makes miniature models of factories.

I, for one... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334657)

welcome our new spider puppet masters.

NASA needs more funding (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#42334683)

because I don't want to live in this planet anymore. We as a human race are losing the war against the evolving arachnids.

That's fuckin' awesome! (5, Funny)

hack slash (1064002) | about a year ago | (#42334743)

I'm going to do the same to ward off other people.

*builds giant man in garden out of wicker*

Re:That's fuckin' awesome! (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year ago | (#42337237)

I'm going to do the same to ward off other people.

Especially if you build it with the wrong number of limbs.

I am arachnaphobic. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334825)

FTFA: Specimens will have to be collected to compare to known species, dissections done on identifying features like the genitalia, and descriptions will have to be written to show why this species is different from others, a type specimen will have to be selected, and the eventual publication of all of that information in a journal. Only then can it be considered a named new species to science.

I am arachnophobic so somebody else will have to do this.

Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42334919)

Is does the spider know that what it's built looks like it? This could have evolved to look like a spider from a predators perspective but the spider probably has no idea what its making.

Re:Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335081)

"know" is such a weird word really.

Re:Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about a year ago | (#42336203)

I'm pretty sure the spider has seen other spiders before. Like it's mother and siblings and mates. Or looking in the reflection of water. I'm not knowledgeable enough in arachnid neurology to know the extent of mental awareness of spiders but I'm pretty sure it can make a pretty good guess at what it looks like.

However, if you mean the spider is just putting sticks and debris there in the web out of instinct and puts no conscious effort into it, I may concede that point to you.

Re:Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336687)

Spiders don't live long enough to learn much, don't really communicate and generally have a very primitive brain. Primates are the only animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror, so you can be sure that a spider does not know what it looks like.

Re:Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337621)

Dolphins can use mirrors.

Re:Question i'd like to know the answer to.. (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about a year ago | (#42337881)

While you may be right that this spider doesn't,

Primates are the only animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror

is way wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test#Animal_Species_Capable_of_Passing [wikipedia.org]

Looking for that I also came across [omg-facts.com] this sentence:

Sadly, humans are the only animals that use mirrors for taking deceiving self-portraits to put on social networks

Hah, this is now outdated information! Spiders are actually the *first* creature (we know of to date) to post decoys of themselves on the intrawebs, while humans are kinda late to the game.

What confuses me is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335185)

...why we are discussing the spider instead of brainstorming ways to wipe them from existence. Seriously, a spider that builds fucking decoys? That exceeds the threshold for me being comfortable with it as a species. And before you scream "you're just prejudice against spiders!" I'll have you know that the day my friend's chow builds a life-size German Shepard in her living room I'll be the first one grabbing for a shotgun. It takes effort to stay on top of the pyramid of edible shit, we can't afford to get complacent.

It's Obvious, really.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335331)

.... take off and nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

Peter Parker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335281)

does this too, and it never ends well...

That Anansi, such a tricksy one! (3, Funny)

mekkab (133181) | about a year ago | (#42335685)

But what happens when that spider discovers tar, makes an ersatz spider out of it, drinks too much, and fights with it?

8 legs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42335833)

Does it remember to build it with 8 legs? Making an elementary mistake by only including 7 would ruin its value...

Spider Decoy subroutine rev 2.92b (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336145)

But seriously, doesn't it look like that spider has a firmware update that others of it's species are missing? How much storage is in a spider brain anyways? It's not like bears passing on novel learned behaviours to their cubs. The spider could not pass this on to it's offspring. It never even sees them. Is mutation an acceptable mechanism for a behaviour innovation like this? I can't see how this would work. If we were to encounter a device like a spider made of parts we could identify -- microcontroller board, servos, etc. we would assume a development environment somewhere where the thing was prototyped, etc. If the spider were microcontroller based, a stray gamma ray flipping a bit would far more likely freeze the program. But we look at a similar machine, made from biological parts, and. blinded ideologically as we are, we assume it happened by chance. Or is evolution not as blind as has been taught, is it, in fact, the FORCE?

Spider says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42336529)

Whatcha looking at bird? You looking at me? You better not be looking at me. Yeah that's right. Keep flying, if you know whats good for you...

A scarecrow for other spiders? (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year ago | (#42336657)

So this fake spider might scare off other preys, but wouldn't it also scare off it's food?

Re:A scarecrow for other spiders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42337013)

That's probably for the web where it resides. The spider could have other webs for the porpouse of catching prey. Or the spider could have other methods to catch prey.

Actually, they're not flat. (0)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about a year ago | (#42337139)

They only look that way because you're looking at dollar figures. What you're not taking into account is the value of the dollar. If you adjust for that, IT wages have been in free fall for over a decade as the value of the dollar plummets. If you're making $60k now, you're making less than someone making $30k in 1997. $80? Not even work the $50k from that time period. Don't believe me? When was the last time you spent $40 for a cart full of groceries? Everything is relative.

Off-topic and wrong all at once. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#42338243)

If you're making $60k now, you're making less than someone making $30k in 1997.

First, this is grossly off-topic.

Second, its also grossly wrong. Adjusted for inflation, $30k in 1997 is equivalent to $43k in 2012. The latest year for which your "$60k now is less than $30k then" is true is 1987.

claim doesn't seem to follow to me (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about a year ago | (#42337889)

How do they know that's a decoy? I've seen other spiders that put stuff in their web. I remember a big black and yellow spider in the garden when I was a kid that had something similar. I speculated that it was there to help prevent birds from flying into it and destroying the web. In this case, the spidery appearance of the junk in the web appears to follow from the fact that the junk has been stuck to the strands of the web, which radiate out from the center much like the legs of a spider.

Re:claim doesn't seem to follow to me (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about a year ago | (#42337925)

Though I suppose the decoy idea makes sense for avoiding being eaten by birds. In which case this isn't the only species of spider that does that, there is at least one more in North America.

This spider only has 7 legs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42338589)

http://www.27bslash6.com/overdue.html

a decoy to avoid (1)

frd1963 (1786106) | about a year ago | (#42339425)

one or more of the following: - irate baby-mamas - process servers - loan sharks - Jehova's witnesses - the crack spider At least that's the impression that I get from watching this related video [collegehumor.com]

They got it wrong... (1)

OS2toMAC (1327679) | about a year ago | (#42341083)

The decoy was built by the creatures in the next bush over. Three poison arrow frogs behind a blind, aiming at the spider coming up behind the decoy.
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