In Fresh Nightmare Fuel, Jumping Spiders Might Be Able to Dream

In Fresh Nightmare Fuel, Jumping Spiders Might Be Able to Dream

Do jumping spiders dream of electric sheep? Maybe not, but they could.

A report from PNAS indicates that jumping spiders might dream when they sleep.

“You thought jumping spiders peaked in their coolness? Buckle up!!! We need to talk about jumping spiders potentially dreaming,” said Doctor Daniela Rößler, the lead author of the study, on Twitter.

“While filming hanging jumping spiders at night, we noticed surprising things happening. Regular phases of curling up their legs and twitching in what seemed like uncontrolled movements. Reminding us a lot of sleeping dogs or cats, we asked: could this be REM sleep?”

Following on from this observation, the team set out to find a way to identify sleep activity in the spiders beyond leg twitching (mind you, leg movements in a spider are different to in a human).

Spiders don’t have the ability to move their eyes, but they can move their retinas. Interestingly, fresh spiderlings are translucent, so the researchers were able to see retina movement in sleeping baby spiders.

“Octopuses have REM-like sleep. Do spiders too? We need to have a closer look at how universal REM sleep and REM-like behaviours might be across the animal kingdom,” Rößler added.

“There are likely many things we can learn from this, since even in humans REM sleep is still a big mystery.”

This research doesn’t necessarily prove that spiders are capable of dreaming, and at the moment scientists are still a bit on the fence about how an octopus might dream.

However, research into the dreaming patterns of insects and animals could inform discussions about REM sleep, surrounding brain function, origin and evolution.

Further research is needed, but there’s something comforting about knowing our little eight-legged friends dream.

Do spiders dream of flies? A web filled with insects? Conquering the world? Who knows. I just think they’re neat.

You can read the report in PNAS.

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