Spiders weave erratic webs as they age

July 3rd, 2011 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 3 (IANS) Young spiders create webs with perfect angles and regular patterns, but as they age, their skills show gaping holes and erratic weaving, new research claims.

By using spiders as a simple model, this research may provide an insight into how age affects behaviour in other organisms, including humans.

The reason web-building skills are lost as spiders grow old may be due to degeneration of the central nervous system.

Doctoral researcher Mylene Anotaux, from Nancy University in France, said: “Our next step will be to understand whether age-induced changes in the central nervous system are behind the differences in behaviour we have found.”

“Because of the importance of understanding the underlying behavioural mechanisms of ageing in humans, investigating simple animal models that assess ageing mechanisms, is essential,” said Anotaux, according to a Nancy statement.

This research used a common European house spider Zygiella x-notata. Its short life span (around 12 months) and simple nervous system made it an ideal organism to shed light on the complexities of how ageing can affect behaviour.

The webs of the spiders were assessed throughout their lifetime using measures such as the regularity of web structure, the angles between the strands and whether there were any holes.

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