A study three decades in the making has revealed that spiders use their webs to tell where sound is coming from. The researchers looked at orb-weaving spiders specifically and discovered that they use webs as extended auditory arrays to capture sounds. This may provide the spider with an early notice of a predator or prey.
The study was in collaboration between Ron Miles, a mechanical engineering faculty member at Binghamton University and Ron Hoy, a biology professor at Cornell. The duo have interest in designing sensitive bio-inspired microphones in hearing aids and cell phones. Spiders have always been known for reacting to vibrations in their webs.
According to the study spiders will crouch or flatten themselves in reaction to noises in the air. Miles explained “The spider is really a natural demonstration that this is a viable way to sense sound using viscous forces in the air on thin fibers, … If it works in nature, maybe we should have a closer look at it.”
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