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Scientists 3D print black widow spiders to learn the secret behind its red hourglass – 3ders.org (blog)

by • March 1, 2016 • No Comments

Mar 2, 2016 | By Tess
Everyone has heard of the black widow spider, one of the many venomous spiders in the world, whose bite may seriously injure a human and kill many animals. The spider’s signature red-hourglass mark which stands out of her stark black body may surely manufacture anyone jump back in fright. It turns out, yet, which the spider’s bright red mark is not just intended to scare us humans away, or to invade our nightmares, but to communicate secret warning signals to sure species of animals.

Researchers supported by Duke University not long ago conducted tests via 3D printed fake spiders to test what consequences the black widow’s red mark had on different types of animal species, namely birds and insects, with the goal of determining how the spider’s marks have different types of consequences on the two types of animal.
The study, which was posted on February 27th in Behavioral Ecology, utilized 3D versioning and 3D printing technologies to turn it into realistic black widow versions. The spider version’s create came of a 3D version createed by video game developers, who frequently include the venomous spider in their game create to turn it into fear and spooky environments.

For the tests, eight spider versions were 3D printed, four of which were painted black and four of which bore the unmistakeable red hourglass mark of the black widow on their bellies. To gather data, the fake spiders were placed with their bellies facing upwards in different types of local bird feeders in Durham, North Carolina to see how hungry birds may react. According to the study’s findings, birds were three times less most likely to fly up to and try to feed on a spider bearing the red marking, with smaller in size birds actually jumping back in fear when the mark was spotted. Lead author of the report Nicholas Brandley said, “The birds may see a spider version with red markings and get startled and jump back, like ‘Oh no man, get me out of here.”
The research in addition discovered which the black widow’s positioning, typically with her red belly facing to the sky, deterred birds who were flying overhead, but created little difference to insects crawling towards her of at a lower place. To additional thoroughly test this thought, the researchers compared two types of North American black widows, one with a red mark just on its belly and one with red marks on the belly and back, to see how their web assembling behavior varied. The black widow with both markings on her belly and back tended to create web higher of the ground, thus necessitating marks on her front and back to warn birds away of both sides, while the spider with marks on her belly created her web much nearer to the ground, just needing to deter birds of above.

Of course, sight has a lot to do with how both birds and insects respond to the black widow’s marked danger as well. After testing how every species may perceive the red hue of the spider’s markings via a spectrodiometer, the researchers discovered which birds perceived the red hues with two times additional contrast than insects may, producing the spider much additional visible to the spider’s future predators pretty than its prey.
The new study once again demonstrates the varied and exceptional uses of 3D printing innovation. This time, the talent to easily turn it into lifelike versions of a spider species has helped in to donate us insight into a feared species of animal, the black widow spider.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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