Male wolf spiders steal dance moves to impress the ladies

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Dancing today comes in many different forms. From ballet to freestyle. Dancing is a way to express yourself and have fun. For male wolf spiders, it is their way to find a mate. Male wolf spiders are naturally gifted dancers. Perhaps more impressive than dancing, is the fact that they are cunning enough to spy on other rituals. They go as far as stealing some of their fanciest dance moves. This behavior is called “eavesdropping”.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati played a video of a rival arachnid male dancing during a courtship ceremony in the proximity of the test spiders. Lab-grown spiders that have never seen mating rituals before didn’t react, while the wild spiders emulated the moves of the ones on the video. Some of them tried to outperform their “rival” by adjusting their movements.

For the males, eavesdropping means learning about the strengths of potential opponents. For females, it means copying other mate choices. Before learning about eavesdropping in spiders, it was only observed with birds, fish, and humans.

This discovery may suggest that spiders are capable of more worldly behaviors. The closer you look at spiders, the more complex they really are. It seems as though their capacity for learning, memory, and decision-making is far greater than humans ever thought.

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