Eye See You: Moving Retina in Jumping Spiders

Eye See You: Moving Retina in Jumping Spiders

⦿ Jumping spiders (Salticidae) don’t use a web to catch prey. Instead they locate, stalk and mount a jumping ambush when they are 1-2 cm away. To do this, they need to detect and then evaluate objects so they don’t confuse a potential mate as prey! Fortunately, jumping spiders have among the sharpest vision among invertebrates.

⦿ Unlike insects, spiders don’t have compound eyes. Instead their 8 “simple” eyes point forward (for high focus) and sideways (to detect motion). Strategically, this is similar to the division of labor in our eyes: we detect peripheral vision at the edges of our retina with low resolution but wide field of view, and sharp images at the fovea in the center of the retina, which is packed with a high density of vision receptors, but has a limited field of view. Since the spider’s large central eyes are set close together and have a limited field of view, they must be moved to point the fovea towards the object. How do they do this?

⦿ Involuntary leg movements are triggered by stimuli from the lateral eyes to reposition the body. However, the spider cannot swivel its whole eyeball as we do, because the lens is built into the carapace, or outer skeleton. Instead, a set of six muscles moves the retina: up and down, sideways and rotationally, while the lens stays fixed. In a transparent spider, you can see the unusual movements of the retina in the tube-like principle eyes. Just one more addition to the cuteness quotient of these tiny spiders! 

REF: M.F. Land (1969) Movements of the retinae of jumping spiders (Salticidae: Dendryphantinae) in response to visual stimuli. http://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/51/2/471.full.pdf

Video Source: Yellow amycine jumping spider from Ecuador, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvN_ex95IcE

GIF Source: http://gph.is/1n7n4aR

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198 Responses to Eye See You: Moving Retina in Jumping Spiders

  1. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m not averse to spider verse, Rashid Moore 🙂

  2. Rugger Ducky says:

    Ugh, love science and adore you, but this gif really needs to stop overrunning my feed. Eww.

  3. Wow. I’m glad it’s not as big as a car.

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Quick, mute the post, Rugger Ducky ! That’s what I do when an occasional post on G+ bothers me. 

  5. Jean Souza says:

    I want to see it closeeeerr! And in slowwer motion! Awesome GIF!

  6. Rugger Ducky says:

    Rajini Rao yes, but that doesn’t help reshares. I now have this spider at least 4 times. 🙂

    I like snakes, don’t mind most bugs or anything, but spiders…yeah.

  7. Gary Ray R says:

    Another interesting post, terrific visuals of the spider moving her retinas.  

    Good to see you posting Rajini Rao 

    Thank you.

  8. Gary Ray R says:

    I think that Lerato Majikfaerie might like to see this one.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s been an unusually busy year at work Gary Ray R, hope I can get back to posting. Hope you are doing better?

  10. The Cloberth says:

    I love the Salticids! They have become rare where I live. 😦

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    I love them too, especially the peacock spiders!

  12. A couple of nice brief introductions to jumping spider vision:


    Harland, D. P. and Jackson, R. R. 2000. ‘Eight-legged cats’ and how they see – a review of recent work on jumping spiders. Cimbebasia 16, 231–240.


  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Great, thanks for the link Steve Esterly. I did come across this ref in my readings but it had a bad link. I look forward to checking it out.

  14. Gary Ray R says:

    Hey Rajini, thanks for asking. 

    I am doing well, knee healing nicely, doing lots of PT, and trying to learn and take more photographs.  

  15. Paul M says:

    Very cool–especially the gif!  I had no idea.

  16. Adam Liss says:

    How do we know when a spider’s movements are involuntary?

  17. I’m always curious about spider’s eyes, this is interesting reading. Nice post Rajini Rao​!👍

  18. Azlin Bloor says:

    I can’t decide if he’s cute or spooky! Great post as always, Rajini Rao. I hope you’re planning to go for Create, we need you and your science!

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Azlin Bloor! I need to get back to nomad dimitri about Create. We played phone tag for a bit and things got impossibly hectic after that 😛

  20. OK what is going on here

  21. The Cloberth says:

    Wow! Rajini Rao The Peacock Spiders are like little gems. We have few in North America that are so colorful, with the exception of some in the genus of Phidippus.

  22. Rajini Rao your timing could not be better: I am returning from Paris tomorrow Sunday.

  23. Skye Castor says:

    woah those eyes tho

  24. wow what a beautiful

  25. Rajini Rao says:

    Adam Liss there are electrophysiological recordings of eye-muscle activity that show the link between the leg contractions and eye movements. Even before eye movements, the spider is in a state of preparedness, with spontaneous muscle contractions. In this state there is no correlation between a change in the visual field and direction of walk. Later, the spider will show voluntary movements where the direction of the gaze is coupled to the direction of gait. Conversely, a mechanical stimulation of the leg (with a puff of air) can cause spontaneous eye movements. There is a more detailed and technical explanation in the book: A Spider’s World: Senses and Behavior by Friedrich G. Barth (around page ~315, Figure 8).

  26. Adam Liss says:

    Wow. Thanks for that, Rajini. Not only is it fascinating, it makes spiders even more creepy. As if that were possible.

  27. Rajini Rao says:

    There’s even more weirdness about their vision. For example, their retina has 4 layers, with the deepest layer receiving green light in sharp focus. The next layer gets a fuzzy image, and by comparing the two images, the spider gets a sense of distance or depth! So, in green light, their jumps were quite accurate whereas in red light, they missed the mark. This “image defocus” method is thought to be unique and is quite different from the way we judge depth by parallax: http://webvision.med.utah.edu/2012/01/jumping-spiders-use-image-defocusing-for-depth-perception/ 

  28. Adam Liss says:

    And the other 2 are most sensitive to UV? I wonder why. (Then, again, I’ve never seen a sunburned spider.)

  29. We have fluorescent green jumping spiders around here.

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Cool, I’ve seen images of bright/neon green spiders too Jeffrey Polaske.  

  31. Fascinating.

    Their ability to traverse obstacles is also remarkable. Sitting quietly an a retaining wall, I noticed one about the size of an apple seed walk up to the edge beside me.

    It turned around an began issuing a thread of silk into the breeze until at about 2 feet it lifted it off the edge into the sky. Ballooning I think it is called.

    On another occasion I saw the opposite technique, where after anchoring a thread to the edge, it stepped off the edge and continued letting out silk until the breeze carried it across and touched the other side. Kind of a lateral repelling…

    I love those little spiders that hunt like a lion. Fun to watch

    Amazing what you can witness if you just sit still and pay attention.

    Great post Rajini!

  32. Rajini Rao says:

    David Andrews yes, what remarkable adaptations; there are also the champion long distance spinners that can generate webs across rivers! And how about the special structural and tensile strengths of silk! 

  33. That is so adorabubble! And informative

  34. outstanding Rajini Rao !

  35. Rajini Rao says:

    Steven Spence glad you enjoyed this little fellow 🙂

  36. Iv’e seen them the size of a nickle or a mustard seed.

    We will all have a deeper understanding and appreciation for them now Rajini!

  37. U Das says:

    I just couldn’t help wondering – when this Mr. Cellophane eats, can we see him process it? To what extent? Even after the external digestion?

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    U Das transparency does allow us to see the guts and watch food being processed, although not in much detail, I would guess. Here’s a collection of transparent creatures and you can see the intestine in many of them! http://pulptastic.com/22-species-see-wildlife-really-letting-hang/

  39. Nick James says:

    Rajini Rao You have covered Owl eyes, now Jumping Spider eyes.  What is next in this series of how wonderful and innovative nature is in solving the common problems of developing vision?

  40. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, you asked for it Nick James  ..

    There was a nod to snow blindness, cocaine and Steppenwolf:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RajiniRao/posts/XVDLMB4ZtPs

    Hydra vision and the Evolution of the Eye: 


    The Optic Chiasm or X Marks the Spot:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RajiniRao/posts/8bL3ji98Mgj

    From Purple Membranes to Pigmented Proteins: How Rhodopsins Sense and Harvest Light:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RajiniRao/posts/VQcMkcSMe1M

    It’s okay, you don’t need to read all that 🙂 So, what should Eye do next? 

    How about a post on the genes and science Behind blue eyes (I could inflict the Who on you). I’m open to suggestions! 

  41. Nick James says:

    Rajini Rao Yeah, yeah…rub it in.  I seem to have missed some totally excellent posts from you:-)

    I’ll read those and come back.

    Don’t wait up!

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    No, honestly, there will be no quiz! It’s bad enough that I have to give exams and review papers for work 😛

  43. U Das says:

    Incredible animals in that link, Rajini Rao! Thank you!

  44. Great to see you back, Rajini Rao ; I’ve been missing your posts. This was well worth the wait!

    (It’s so cute, the spider).

  45. Rajini Rao says:

    Jyoti Q Dahiya hi there! It’s good to be back. 

  46. Wow. This is amazing!

  47. Evolution at its finest!

  48. Rajini Rao again great post. It will be good to start getting a set of genes these mechanisms are built on.

  49. That way, we can create insects as Robots.

  50. For a moment I thought it is on my mobile screen and alive . Great video. Our nature is so beautiful but complicated .

  51. Rajini Rao says:

    Hah, I hope it did not scare you Aditya Vikram Singh . I love the beauty in the complexity of nature too. 

  52. Mary T says:

    I love spiders!  Great post 🙂

  53. Rajini Rao says:

    I sometimes forget that some find spiders, even tiny ones like this, distressingly creepy, Mary T .

  54. Mary T says:

    Me, too, Rajini Rao ~ I always take them outside when they get into the house.

  55. Rajini Rao like hot fucking chat

  56. Its a pretty little spider is it poisonous? .

  57. Rajini Rao Would you ask Zuleyka to apply for Google+ Create. I have introduced her in the group but she has to apply. It would help increase audience through effects on algorithms.

  58. Rozni Yusof says:

    So these spiders eyes are like tilt shift cameras?

  59. Pedro Olivo says:

    Imagine something like this more like human size. It would have the potential to jump over building and possibly stalk preys that are mills away. I’m not a big fan of spiders, however it is very fascinating to see the abilities they have to survive. thanks for sharing!

  60. Oren Hasson says:

    You can sometimes see the eye movement inside in a juvenile. This, however, seems to be an adult male. Thanks for directing our attention to the video. It’s beautiful. Salticids are beautiful…

  61. Nice I like spider👏👏👏👌

  62. aleah bhahaw says:

    q lbttvlgkgv ygndbfbx rss

  63. Están muy buenos los vídeos ok

  64. Hola que tal bien y vos contesta Leandro ok soy de Concordia entre ríos ok

  65. Dana Crowe says:

    Rajini Rao. I wish u was my teacher when I was in school!!

  66. kaknnONDAOS,,KM😉jbo x,


  67. Ajay nawde says:

    Science is the Mor exprnt

  68. good morning sugar wali good morning

  69. Şşşšçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçccçcçcçcçcççcçcöccöcöcöcncöhövgögkglgögöglgöggöggtggmlfmgmgögmhmhmggmgmföföföcmcmcgöggögllglggllgkgtltlglgömfövvömvmmmmmmmmjlrlflfkfkkfkfkgkgkgkgkgkkggkgkgkvkvkgkgkgkvkggkgkgkkggmgmgkkvkvmggkkgkgmgmhmggmggmgmgmgmmvmvvkgkghkhlhl

  70. Şşşšçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçcçccçcçcçcçcççcçcöccöcöcöcncöhövgögkglgögöglgöggöggtggmlfmgmgögmhmhmggmgmföföföcmcmcgöggögllglggllgkgtltlglgömfövvömvmmmmmmmmjlrlflfkfkkfkfkgkgkgkgkgkkggkgkgkvkvkgkgkgkvkggkgkgkkggmgmgkkvkvmggkkgkgmgmhmggmggmgmgmgmmvmvvkgkghkhlhl

  71. Ayup Salih says:


    On 30 Jan 2017 14:27, “Ayup Salih” <****@**> wrote:

    > Hai

  72. Manisha Gupta thanks

  73. Wow. This is amazing!

  74. Raja Mina says:

    I Love the sslticides

  75. pradeep r says:

    good morning guys

  76. Ramesh Kumar says:

    God morning my dear

  77. SUDHARANI G says:


  78. Justin Babu says:

    Can we find such odd kinds of spiders only in remote places like forests and deserts

  79. Alton Moore says:

    Zy trying to bite with that spider

  80. Vaibhav Raut says:

    Wow….it’s amazing…I love that😍

  81. John Bump says:

    I was talking to a friend about spider retinas and trying to give links to my assertions, and hey, look at this lovely post, which I plussed a year ago and had totally forgotten in the meantime.

  82. Channel Manning how are you doing

  83. Vithuran Abi says:

    What are you doing? 🤑

  84. Hoje foi muito bom te encontrar

  85. TAPAN DUTTA says:

    Thank you Jose Olando Vieira Dos Reis

  86. Hing Cheng says:

    Kz Ax’s jl TV I’ll

  87. Vijay Kumar says:

    cast a whistle, i hate spider

  88. Hien Bui says:

    Anh mỹ ne em yêu

  89. that’s so cool but i don’t want to see that in real life i cant do bugs but i love all other animals cats, dogs, snakes,frogs, birds,mice you name it! this is not me holding it and i did not take this picture but i would hold one any day even if its adult …..of course with cation


  90. meera sharma says:


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    [24/1 08:29] MARCELO: Aqui você compra até por 99% de desconto Á ultima pessoa á dar seu lance adquire seu produto por um preço muito justo

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