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Showing posts with label spiders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiders. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bathroom spiders and memory

Some people love them and some hate them, but I find spiders fascinating and harmless creatures. About 6 weeks ago I noticed a spider about 5mm across, type unknown but typical type found in UK houses, creating a little nest above our bath. Rather than clear it away I left it and waited to see what happened. About 2 weeks ago the baby spiders started to appear, most often when we were having a bath and the room was warm and steamy. The first time just a couple appeared but within a week or so up to 10 baby spiders no more than 1-2mm across started to appear. This weekend I've noticed they've started to venture a bit further and are now at the other end of the room.

What amazes me about spiders, and indeed all sorts of insects and other wild creatures is the ability to do things by what must be inherited "memory". How does this tiny little spider know how to go hunting? How does it know how to create those incredible webs of silk? How does a late flying young swallow know how to head south across 6000-7000 miles of often hostile desert and oceans to join its parents in South Africa every autumn and then make the same journey back again the following spring?

How we all have evolved is nothing short of incredible. In the case of human beings we have something like 100 billion neurons and countless neural connections. It beggars believe.

Finally, one does wonder about inherited memory. Here I mean not only the sort of thing we'd call "instinct" but is there a possibility we actually can inherit/pass down actual memories (of things, places, events) from our ancestors? The traditional view is no, but sometimes I do wonder.