Unlike cockroaches that need to be fitted with robotic parts before they can dance, male wolf spiders are naturally gifted with Fred Astaire-like tappy feet. In fact, they use this ability to woo potential mates. But perhaps more impressive is the fact that they're cunning enough to spy on their rivals' courtship rituals — and even steal some of their slickest dance moves. This behavior called "eavesdropping" was recently discovered in spiders by a team of biologists from the University of Cincinnati.
The researchers played a video of an eight-legged dancing king during a courtship ceremony in the presence of the test spiders. While naïve lab-grown specimens that have never seen mating rituals before couldn't care less about what's on the screen, the spiders captured from the wild mimicked the moves of the virtual arachnids. Some of them (like the spider on the video above) even adjusted the rates of their leg tapping movements so they could outperform their perceived rival.
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