• Video contributions from authors of Science papers

Focus on Jumping Spiders

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Jumping spiders on the hunt must accurately judge the distance to their prey, but they do not use the usual methods of depth perception. Most animals gauge distance by either adjusting the focal length of their lenses or moving their heads to observe parallax motion. However, Nagata et al. show that jumping spiders use “image defocus” to judge distance. In image defocus, an unfocused image and focused image are compared within the same eye. When the researchers analyzed the layers of the jumping spiders’ retinas, they found a specialized layer of green pigment that captures a defocused version of what the spider is looking at. This reliance on green light is shown in the accompanying video where the jumping spiders stalk their prey successfully under normal and green light conditions but miss their targets when bathed in red light alone.

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