Spiders tune the strings of their webs, building sonic sensor networks
We at Chirp keep our ears to the ground for new developments in audio and communications tech. But often, the most impressive innovations come from the natural world, and have existed in nature longer than we have.
Here’s one of them: new research published in the Royal Society Interface shows that spiders acoustically tune the strings of their webs, and can decode their vibrations to detect the positions of ensnared prey. It also allows them to sense the structural integrity of the web, the presence of potential mates or predators, and atmospheric conditions such as wind.
The authors write:
“In addition to their role as structural elements, web silks are also able to act as signal lines by transmitting vibrations to the spider… Importantly, spiders possess very sensitive vibration sensors on each that enable them to use this silk-linked information source.” [source]
It’s as if the spiders inhabit a network of signal transmissions, continuously decoding inputs from the world around them in a vibratory hum of data.
This isn’t the first time that unusual acoustic properties have been discovered within spiders’ webs; a recent study in Nature Materials showed that spider silk is capable of blocking the transmission of certain frequencies of “phonons”, quasiparticles of sound that travel along the filaments.
Written by the Chirp team. Visit us at chirp.io to find out about our groundbreaking data-over-audio technology .