Watching Spiders Watch TV

Margaret Wertheim at Cabinet Magazine:

In the 1980s, zoologists were thus astonished to discover that Salticidae, or jumping spiders, a family of the arachnids that contains more than five hundred genera and over five thousand separate species, had vision systems on par with cats, mammals famous for their acute eyesight. With around six hundred thousand neurons in its brain (roughly half that of a fly or a honeybee), a jumping spider can recognize images on a television screen and is the only invertebrate known to be capable of such a sophisticated feat of visual processing. “How does this speck of dust of a brain achieve such a complicated task?” asks Simon Pollard, curator of invertebrate zoology at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. “We need to look deep into these unblinking eyes.”

more here.