CityBeat: UC research finds spiders might recognize faces

UC's Morehouse Lab is unlocking secrets of spider vision and recognition

CityBeat profiled the work of students in the University of Cincinnati's Morehouse Lab who are exploring the vision and cognition of jumping spiders.

UC doctoral student Jenny Sung is examining if female paradise jumping spiders use the male's colorful face designs to choose a good mate.

The spiders are nearly imperceptibly small but magnification shows their impressive, bold facial markings.

Sung's research was inspired in part by her fascination with uniquely painted Peking Opera Masks, which help communicate motivation, emotion and pathos to the audience.

UC associate professor Nathan Morehouse said his team's work suggests spiders pay attention to faces.

“There is this interesting thread between our focus on how much we care about faces as humans and how many decisions we make based on faces and this world of jumping spiders,” Morehouse told CityBeat. “But we always have to keep in mind that their brains — their cognition — everything about the situation is different. It's this interesting exploration of the sameness and difference of these two worlds.”

Read the CityBeat story.

Jenny Yi-Ting Sung  PhD student at University of Cincinnati is looking at the evolution of Chinese opera masks and how these social customs compare to evolution of communication cues in nature at Rieveschl. UC/Joseph Fuqua II

UC doctoral student Jenny Sung holds up a jumping spider in UC's biology lab. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

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