Psychedelic-Looking ‘Disco’ Spider Pulsates With Color and Scientists Don’t Know How and Why

Hey, what’s this swirling, pulsating thing that resembles a snake’s head?

Image credit: Nicky Bay via Ranger Rik

Believe it or not, it’s a spider.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” one scientist said of the flashy, quite psychedelic-looking, arachnid. Or rather, its abdomen.

Photographer Nicky Bay has spent years recording the mysteriously morphing Cyrtarachne spider in the forests of Singapore, and he recently published a collection of photos and videos documenting the stunning phenomenon.

“During my years in the field, I had recorded numerous instances of micro-movements in spider abdomens. Most are just really tiny unnoticeable movements around the spider’s heart line, but one particular spider stood out with swirling or pulsating movements in the abdomen and clearly visible with the naked eye,” wrote Bay, explaining how he took notice of the incredible animal.

“The amount of detail revealed got more fascinating as I got closer, showing a largely transparent but patterned membrane over what appeared to be the spider’s internal organs at work,” he added.

Here’s a video Bay released about the pulsating disco spider.

But why does this spider species put on such an amazing display? Did nature have a purpose in mind when designing such a visual feast?

Well, the short answer is we don’t know. Regularly photographed in Singapore, the creature’s pulsating designs have proved to be a difficult challenge for scientists. They simply don’t know how it produces those mind-bending internal movements, let alone what purpose they might serve.

“People love to jump to conclusions what such a behavior is good for,” such as attracting prey or deterring predators, said Rainer Foelix, author of the book Biology of Spiders. “Rather than to speculate, it would be better to study this phenomenon scientifically,” Foelix pointed out.

Indeed, there have only been speculations so far. Some scientist think it’s a movement to attract prey, while others have suggested it’s a warning for potential predators. And there’s is an ever simpler hypothesis. What if it’s simply the movement of digestive fluids, and we’re thinking too much? (i.e. there’s no special reason)

Well, decide for yourself. Here’s another video taken of the amazing phenomenon.

Mesmerizing, isn’t it?

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4


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