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The Case of the Lopsided Spider

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I was entranced by this image when it appeared today in my facebook stream:

The evil eye? Or just a developmental anomaly?

Captured by the talented Malaysian photographer Liew Wk, the photo shows a developmental asymmetry in size between the anterior median eyes of this Asian jumping spider. I do not know what caused this imbalance. Perhaps each side is a molt out of sync, or perhaps this individual is a mosaic of male & female parts. I wonder if it has troubles catching prey, or if the little spider brain has adapted to deal with the unconventional visual signal.

Wk’s image is the best sort of nature photograph. The spider appears bemused, as with a raised eyebrow, but the oddness also keeps us entrained to the underlying biology. So we linger.

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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