The biologist and her team have discovered a REM sleep-like state in jumping spiders, contributing to a better understanding of the evolution of sleep in animals.
The authors took nocturnal infrared images of 34 young jumping spiders and analysed them. Since the skin of the newly hatched spiders does not yet show any pigmentation, the authors were able to observe the spiders' retinas directly. The spiders showed phases of distinct retinal movements that occurred at very regular intervals. The length of these phases increased in the course of the night.
The observed retinal movements were always accompanied by uncontrolled body movements, such as curling of the legs or twitching of individual limbs as well as the so-called spinneret nipples. This means astonishing similarities to REM sleep in other animals. The authors also observed similar leg movements at regular intervals in adult jumping spiders.
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