Spider Sculpts Fake Spider

A putative new species of spider found in the Peruvian Amazon uses forest debris to weave sculptures that resemble a giant spider into its web.

By | December 19, 2012

PHIL TORRESSome species of spider are known to weave elaborate patterns into their webs, but a newly discovered spider in the Peruvian Amazon tops them all—by sculpting what appears to be a giant mock spider from dead insects, leaves, and other forest debris. Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa, which includes spiders known to build web structures, the 5-mm-long spider may use the decoy to confuse predators.

Biologist and science educator Phil Torres spotted the unusual behavior while leading visitors around a floodplain near Peru’s Tambopata Research Center. He contacted arachnid expert Linda Rayor of Cornell University in New York, who confirmed that the construction of spider-shaped decoys has never previously been observed. Torres later returned to same area and found around 25 more spider-building spiders within roughly one square mile.

“I have never seen a structure just like this,” William Eberhard, an entomologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Costa Rica, told Wired, though he noted that identifying the spider as new species based on the decoy-building behavior alone is probably not possible.

Torres plans to return to the same area in January with a permit to collect specimens, which will help to verify whether or not the decoy builder is indeed a new species.

Clarification (December 20): Phil Torres found around 25 spiders that build into their webs structures resembling giant spiders. The Scientist has added the information and regrets the omission.


Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: Ed M.

Ed M.

Posts: 45

December 19, 2012

Maybe it attracts a mate and intimidates predators at the same time?

Avatar of: Curculio


Posts: 51

December 19, 2012

Is there a consistent pattern in the weavings of spiders or do you have to squint to see the image?

Avatar of: rosinbio


Posts: 13

December 20, 2012

The report does not make i at allt clear whether this species of spider regularly sculpts spider-forms into its web, or whether this was found in a single incident only!

As a regular occurrence, it would be utterly incredible! But as a single incident, it could have happened by sheer accident!

Sorry, but I dont have the patience to chase after the e-mail address of this biologist Phil Torres, to ask him what exactly he found???

Avatar of: rosinbio


Posts: 13

December 20, 2012

I have by now found a more detailed repotr about this "discovery", in SciTech Daily.

According to this report, "decoys" that look like spiders were seen repeatedly. Nonetheless, this could still have happened by sheer accident, because, while some looked like realisic spiders, others did not.(They are then described as looking like cartoon octopuses.)


Avatar of: kvoigt


Posts: 1

January 3, 2013

so a spider comprising a theory of mind ?


BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences

Popular Now

  1. The Mycobiome
    Features The Mycobiome

    The largely overlooked resident fungal community plays a critical role in human health and disease.

  2. Antibody Alternatives
    Features Antibody Alternatives

    Nucleic acid aptamers and protein scaffolds could change the way researchers study biological processes and treat disease.

  3. Holding Their Ground
    Features Holding Their Ground

    To protect the global food supply, scientists want to understand—and enhance—plants’ natural resistance to pathogens.

  4. Circadian Clock and Aging
    Daily News Circadian Clock and Aging

    Whether a critical circadian clock gene is deleted before or after birth impacts the observed aging-related effects in mice.

Life Technologies