Spiders evolving to become social: Australian study

CANBERRA, Nov. 25– Some species of spider are evolving to be more social, Australian scientists have found. According to a study published by Australian National University on Friday, species including the Australian huntsman have become more gregarious as a result of genetic changes. It’s a lot like having a meal with family, ” Alexander Mikheyev from the ANU…

CANBERRA, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) — Some species of spider are evolving to be more social, Australian scientists have found.

According to a study published by Australian National University (ANU) on Friday, species including the Australian huntsman have become more gregarious as a result of genetic changes.

Growing up to 15 centimeters across, the huntsman is one of Australia’s most common spiders but is not considered a major threat to humans.

“A lot of spider sociality is them sitting together and eating in the same place, or sharing food. It’s a lot like having a meal with family,” Alexander Mikheyev from the ANU Research School of Biology said in a media release.

“There is also a level of relatedness, similar to how you’re more social with your family members as opposed to complete strangers.”

Arthropods including spiders do not have centralized brains like mammals, instead distributing their neural tissue widely through the central nervous system.

Animals with a social nature typically have bigger brains than their solitary counterparts.

The ANU research found that the huntsman and African social spider have a more developed nervous system than solitary spider species.

Mikheyev said both species underwent similar genetic changes to become more social, with both exhibiting changes to genes that control behavior, neuron building and metabolism function.

“We found that across different species, very similar genes and the same sorts of mechanisms were involved in the shift from solidarity to sociality,” Mikheyev said.

He predicted that in the future more spiders could follow the same evolutionary pattern and become more social. Enditem

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